Originally posted on the 7/7 Inquests Blog: July 7th Inquests - 'Life Extinct'?
On the afternoon of November 3rd, at the 7/7 Inquests, a Dr. Morgan Costello gave evidence via a videolink from Ireland. In his testimony, Dr Morgan Costello confirmed that, as a result of his work for the Metropolitan Police Service 'providing medical services and medical assistance'...' in relation to deaths in custody', in July 2005, he was asked to attend two scenes, Edgware Road and Aldgate, for the 'purposes of certifying the extinction of life'.
Dr. Costello confirmed (page 3, lines 9-11) that 'It was very clearly described to me by the officers on the scene that they didn't want anything other than for me to pronounce life extinct on the victims'.
Dr. Costello confimed that, in July 2005, he was a consultant psychiatrist, who specialised in a specialty of psychiatry, who then went on to work full-time for the police undertaking extra qualifications in forensic and legal medicine.
Why a consultant psychiatrist was asked to pronounce on the extinction of life is not clear. Dr Costello's previous work as a consultant for the MPS, in relation to 'deaths in custody' would seem to have little bearing on the identification of numerous victims in the aftermath of an explosion, particularly in such extreme circumstances. Dr. Costello appears to have missed the 'part of a body...In fact a human spine' noticed by one of the first on the scene at Aldgate on 7th July, off-duty/plainclothes Police Sergeant Neil Kemp (transcripts Page 46, lines 7-15, 27th October pm) . The 'piece of spine' found at Aldgate was not insignificant according to the statement of Mr Nathaniel Carey read on 3 November 2010 (afternoon session, Page 16, lines 9-25).
Dr Costello confirmed that he visited the Edgware Road scene at 00.59 on Friday 8th July, and then the Aldgate scene at 08.40 on 8th July. Dr Costello also confirmed that 'there were difficult considerations to be taken into account at the time and I was very much led by the crime scene manager, and there was difficulty accessing some of the bodies or even seeing them clearly'. The crime scene manager was DC Andrew Meneely, who in his testimony given on the morning of 3rd November (Page 66) stated that he was 'attached to the Counter-terrorism Command and New Scotland Yard' as a 'forensic scene examiner' but who now works in the [Australian] Bomb Data Centre.
Dr Costello then goes on to confirm, being prompted and led by Hugo Keith through the list, that he identified (by code numbers of the bodies involved) six bodies at Edgware Road and seven bodies at Aldgate scenes as 'life extinct'.
The numbers identified by Dr. Costello should have been seven bodies at Edgware Road and eight bodies at Aldgate, if the alleged 'bombers' bodies were included. It seems incredible that Dr. Morgan Costello should miss a 30cm x 14cm x 10cm piece of spine weighing 1.852kg, particularly if this is the 'piece of spine' to which Neil Kemp makes reference to seeing on the morning of 7th July. Further, Hugo Keith is directing Dr. Costello to his two statements dated 27 September 2005, rather than to any contemporaneous records that Dr Costello may have kept on two days in July.
Despite the numbers of lives extinct pronounced at Edgware Road and Aldgate missing the alleged perpetrators in their totals, the Metropolitan Police appeared to be one step ahead of the medical professionals, or a couple of steps behind. In a period of thirteen minutes at around 6pm on the day of 7 July 2005, the Metropolitan Police issued two bulletins citing the number of deceased at each of the incident locations. The timings here, as with the entire story of 7/7, are important to note. An 18.03 bulletin claimed "there five [sic] fatalities" at Edgware Road. Yet, an update issued at 18.13 (just ten minutes later) but claiming to be based on "Latest from New Scotland Yard at 18:00" (three minutes prior the previous Metropolitan Police update) was claiming the number of victims as "7 at Edgware Road".
Also worth noting is that there is no evidence/testimony provided by Hugo Keith as he links the 'life extinct' bodies with the Edgware Road/Aldgate victims names/identities. There is no mention of the 'Identification Commission' nor any mention of any death registration particulars/rulingsby the presiding coroner, Dr Andrew Reid, in July 2005.
In fact the issue of the victims identifications are going to be 'outside the scope of the proceedings':15 Q. The issue of the bodies and their recovery and their16 treatment is outside the scope of these proceedings by17 order of my Lady earlier in these proceedingsThis means that there will never be scrutiny of the identification issues, relating to any and all of the victims, including the alleged bombers.
Given that one of the tenets of the purposes and functions of an inquest is to establish 'who has died', we must ask:
What sort of an inquest is this?
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