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Bereaved families want to know why London Bridge terrorists were able to hire van in Harold Hill

PUBLISHED: 16:14 11 January 2019

The white Renault van used in the London Bridge attack on June 3 was hired in Harold Hill. Picture: Met Police

The white Renault van used in the London Bridge attack on June 3 was hired in Harold Hill. Picture: Met Police

Met Police

Bereaved families want to know why it was possible for the London Bridge terrorists to hire a van in Harold Hill to carry out their attack, an inquest heard.

Khuram Shazad Butt. Picture: Met PoliceKhuram Shazad Butt. Picture: Met Police

Eight people were killed and many more injured when Youssef Zaghba, 22, of Ilford, Khuram Butt, 27, of Barking, and Rachid Redouane, 33, of Barking, drove a van into pedestrians and stabbed others in Borough Market in June 2017.

Police then shot and killed the men in the space of eight minutes.

The vehicle the attackers used was hired from a company in Harold Hill and a lawyer speaking on behalf of the victims’ families told an inquest hearing at the Old Bailey today (Friday, January 11), that answers were needed as to why rental companies did not introduce security checks following the use of hire vehicles in a series of terrorist attacks across Europe.

“(There was an) apparent failure to have any sort of regulation or security checks by rental businesses where they are renting out powerful vehicles which can be used as lethal weapons,” Gareth Patterson QC said.“We have had them used in terrorist attack after terrorist attack.”

Butt met with other terrorists at the Ummah Fitness Centre. Police cordoned off the gym after the terrorist attack. Photo: Ken MearsButt met with other terrorists at the Ummah Fitness Centre. Police cordoned off the gym after the terrorist attack. Photo: Ken Mears

The lawyer pointed out that vehicles were also used to cause carnage in Nice and Berlin.

The bereaved families also wanted to know why barriers were not erected on bridges after an attack outside the Houses of Parliament in March 2017.

Mr Patterson added: “Protective security is of real significance.

“The issues that emerged in Westminster appear to have resulted in nothing by way of additional regulations.

“The pavements of London Bridge were wide open, despite what happened at Westminster.”

Jonathan Hough QC, counsel to the inquests, said the coroner would be considering what authorities knew about the terrorists before the attack.

Large dossiers on each of the terrorists have been compiled and police have taken 2,700 witness statements and viewed extensive CCTV footage of the days and hours leading up to the incident and during it.

The inquest will also consider how ringleader Butt was able to plan the attack despite being under MI5 surveillance.

Judge Mark Lucraft QC, chief coroner of England and Wales, said an inquest for the London Bridge victims would start on May 7, followed by an inquest for the terrorists.

He expected the process to last two months.

The inquests will be broadcast via video link to victims’ relatives who live outside the UK, and transcripts of hearings will be published on a public website.

Judge Lucraft also refused an anonymity application by a relative of Butt, but said that if the man is called as a witness he may request special measures to protect aspects of his identity.

The victims of the attack were Canadian Christine Archibald, 30, and Frenchmen Xavier Thomas, 45, and Alexandre Pigeard, 26, as well as Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39.

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