NAMED: The six ‘hacked’ 7/7 victims Murdoch lawyers tried to hide

  • LEGAL papers naming six victims of the July 7, 2005, London bombings allegedly targeted by The Sun and News of the World with illegal newsgathering can be reported for the first time
  • LAWYERS for News Group Newspapers dropped a draft order seeking reporting restrictions on a sworn witness statement making the serious allegations after a courtroom challenge by this website
  • REDACTIONS blocking the names of the six victims from entering the public domain have been lifted as a result
  • FOUR PEOPLE who died in the atrocities and two survivors were targeted by shadowy private investigators hired by Murdoch reporters, it is alleged
  • PUBLISHERS News Group Newspapers deny liability for voicemail interception or unlawful information gathering by The Sun – the UK’s most powerful tabloid – in relation to any 7/7 victim in the ongoing case, as;
  • LONDON Mayor Sadiq Khan led tributes yesterday, the 17th anniversary of the atrocities which killed 52 people and injured more than 700 in a series of targeted public transport bombings
The bomb destroyed number 30 double-decker bus in Tavistock Square in central London July 8, 2005. Police have stated that over 50 people have been killed in the four blasts that tore through three underground trains and the bus and have added that the scene is too dangerous to remove bodies from the underground carriages. (REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)

By Dan Evans | Founding Editor

SIX LONDON bombing victims allegedly snooped on illegally by Rupert Murdoch’s UK tabloids can now be named after the news giant dropped a High Court bid to gag reporting of their identities.

Following a legal challenge by this website, citing principles of Open Justice, News Group Newspapers abandoned a temporary Court Order that would have blacked out the victims’ names from legal documents.

It is alleged the six were secretly targeted by private investigators instructed by Murdoch journalists to probe into their private and family lives having been unwittingly caught up in the atrocities of July 7, 2005.

“Given the targeting Ms Douglass describes in her witness statement, it is reasonable to infer that they too were targeted by NGN along with their friends and families,”

David Sherborne, Claimants’ barrister

Those named, who could now have the basis for claims for damages against Britain’s biggest newspaper publishers, are among up to 25,000 further alleged victims of unlawful newsgathering recently identified by lawyers acting for Claimants.

The six are Shahara Islam, James Mayes, Neetu Jain, Fiona Stevenson, Philip Duckworth, and John Tulloch.

It comes as London Mayor Sadiq Khan led tributes yesterday to the victims of 7/7, laying a wreath at a memorial in Hyde Park, as the city marked the 17th anniversary of one of its darkest days.

Newspapers reporting on the 7/7 attacks in London (Alamy)

Honouring their memory, Mr Khan said London “will always stand united against the evils of terrorism”, adding in a statement: “Today is a day for remembrance as we honour the 52 people whose lives were taken and the more than 700 who were injured by the abhorrent terrorist attacks on our city on 7 July 2005.

“It’s important to also pay tribute to the heroes who came to London’s aid that day.”

The latest legal twist in the long-running Various vs News Group Newspapers (NGN) privacy litigation can be revealed after this website challenged a gagging bid by the publishing giant to redact the victims’ names, which was then dropped.

Davinia Douglass – characterised by the tabloid press as the ‘Woman in the Mask’ – is suing NGN’s The Sun newspaper for allegedly hacking and blagging into her private life as she lay recovering from burns in a hospital. (Alamy)

And it comes after we reported that Davinia Douglass – another 7/7 victim, characterised by the tabloid press as the ‘Woman in the Mask’ – is suing NGN’s The Sun newspaper for allegedly hacking and blagging into her private life as she lay recovering from burns in a hospital.

In a hearing at the Rolls Building in London on March 24 and 25, 2022, Mrs Douglass’s barrister David Sherborne, revealed some of the key allegations contained in her suit, which is due to be heard in full at a trial at a date to be set.

Mr Sherborne said: “Ms Douglass refers to the System Searches’ [an alleged private investigation company] invoice… which reveals a number of searches carried out on NGN’s behalf against names that Ms Douglass did not recognise.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan approaches to lay a wreath at the London Bombing Memorial in Hyde Park, London, on the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the capital. (Alamy)

“Following enquiries made by my firm, it became apparent that those invoices evidence the targeting of other victims of the 7 July bombings, some of whom had died in the attack,”

“My firm showed Ms Douglass the articles which she exhibits… and which record the following people as victims of (or connected to victims of) the 7 July attack: Sharaha Islam, James Mayes. Neetu Jain, Fiona Stevenson, and Philip Duckworth.”

Mr Sherborne added: “Given the targeting Ms Douglass describes in her witness statement, it is reasonable to infer that they too were targeted by NGN along with their friends and families.”

In addition, Mrs Douglass – details of whose case can be read here – also described seeing alleged evidence that her entire family, including her elderly grandmother who just a month before 7/7 had lost her daughter (Mrs Douglass’s mother) to cancer, had been individually targeted by NGN reporters.

Image taken on The Mall, the day after the London 7/7 terrorist attacks / bombings of 7th July 2005. Defiant banner reads: London Can Take It. (Alamy)

Mr Sherborne said: “The Court will note that Ms Douglass, as well as her grandmother Frances Rimmer and half-brother Vincent Turrell also feature in this invoice.”

News Group Newspapers has never accepted liability for voicemail interception or unlawful information gathering in relation to The Sun.

It does not admit any wrongdoing by The Sun in relation to Mrs Douglass or any other 7/7 victim.

However, despite denying liability, it has made out-of-court settlements for substantial amounts of damages in claims, of Sienna Miller, Simon Hughes and Paul Gascoigne, which only make allegations against The Sun.

The case continues.

THE DE-RESTRICTED court document – a witness statement known as Galbraith 33 – can be read here, and names the six as:

  • Shahara Islam, 20, from Whitechapel, east London was born in Britain to a devout Muslim family of Bengali origin. She attended the mosque every Friday, but loved western culture and fashions and regularly shopped for designer clothes, shoes and handbags. She worked as a cashier at the Cooperative bank in Islington and died on the number 30 bus at Tavistock Square as she made her way to work from a dental appointment.
  • James Mayes, an analyst at the Healthcare Commission, a body that strives to improve the NHS, was on his way to a seminar when he was killed. He lived with a friend in north London, and had just returned from holiday the evening before the attacks. Friend Rohen Kapur said Mr Mayes enjoyed life to the full. “James was the lovable, unpunctual, irritating, wonderful man that I miss terribly. The world is all the poorer for his passing.”
    James Mayes, who died in the Piccadilly Line bombing liked to quip about working for “a nice Blairite quango”, but in reality he was exhilarated by his health commission brief to help improve the National Health Service. A Warwick University graduate in politics, he grew up in Barnet, London, and went to the City of London school. He was not on his normal route on the day of the bombings.
  • Neetu Jain‘s personal life and career were the best they had been when she was caught up in the Tavistock Square explosion on 7 July 2005.
    The 37-year-old was about to get engaged and had just started a new job which saw her helping to build computer software used by many millions of people every day.
    But after her normal commute to her Old Street offices was disrupted when the Tube network was evacuated, she boarded the number 30 bus which was blown up by a suicide bomber at 0947 BST.
    At her inquest, her sister, Reetu Jain, said: “At this point, she was the happiest that she had ever been with her career and personal life.”
  • Talented lawyer Fiona Stevenson rang work on the morning of 7 July to tell them she was running late.
    But the 29-year-old never arrived at court in Hammersmith, west London.
    Her journey to work that day from her new flat in the Barbican complex in the City of London ended in tragedy on the Circle line near Aldgate.
    Miss Stevenson had dreamed of becoming a lawyer ever since she did some work with a local firm of solicitors at the age of 14 and harboured a long-term ambition to work for the UN.
    That determination was driven by a strong sense of human injustice which burned brightly within her, according to her boss Colin Reynolds, of central London law firm Reynolds Dawson.
    “Her entire career history was a testament to her dedication to representing those ensnared in the criminal justice system, but unable to defend themselves,” he said at the time.
  • Philip Duckworth; dubbed ‘the luckiest man alive’, he was left for dead with a shard of a bomber’s shin embedded in his eye after being caught in the Aldgate explosion.
    When rescuers walked down the tunnel to search for survivors, one looked down at the then 41-year-old and said: “This one’s gone.”
    But Mr Duckworth was later able to tell the 7/7 inquests: “There was a guy with a torch and he said, ‘Oh no, this one’s gone’ and then moved on.
    “But at that point, I was like ‘No, I’m not. Hang on a second, I’m not gone’. That’s when I forced myself on to my knees and got up.”
  • John Tulloch is a victim of the 7/7 London bombings who has already sued the publisher of the News of the World after police said his voicemails were targeted by the now-closed Sunday tabloid.
    Professor Tulloch was one of the most high-profile survivors of the terror attacks in 2005, and the second 7/7 victim to take legal action against News International over phone hacking at the News of the World, after Sheila Henry, the mother of Christian Small who was killed, took legal action in 2011.
    Tulloch sat three feet from the bomber Mohammed Sidique Khan on a tube train in which six fellow passengers were killed among the 52 civilian fatalities.

Disclaimer: The author of this article has given Witness Statements on behalf of the Claimants during the course of the Mobile Telephone Voicemail Interception Litigation (MTVIL) affecting NGN since 2014.

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