The widow of a July 7 suicide bomber yesterday launched a High Court bid to be represented at the victims’ inquest - saying she had also suffered the loss of a loved one in the atrocity.
Hasina Patel, whose husband was terrorist mastermind Mohammad Sidique Khan, is seeking legal aid to challenge the coroner’s decision to exclude Khan’s death from the hearing for the 52 victims of the 2005 London bombings.
If the mother of one’s application is granted, October’s long-awaited inquest could be delayed by months of legal wrangling, to the distress of those who have waited more than five years for it to take place.
Lawyers for Miss Patel claim there should be ‘no material distinction’ between her and the families of those killed, because she ‘equally suffered the loss of a relative’.
But the move will anger bereaved families, who do not want the deaths of the terrorists included in the same inquest as the 52 innocents whose lives they took.
Miss Patel hopes to overturn the decision made by Lady Justice Hallett in May to hold a separate hearing into the deaths of the four bombers - Mohammad Sidique Khan, 30, Shehzad Tanweer, 22, Hasib Hussain, 18, and Jermaine Lindsay, 19.
The Government has already agreed to give legal aid to the families of the 52 victims. But Miss Patel’s request for equal funding was refused in May this year.
Afterwards, her solicitor Imran Khan said: ‘There appears to be no material distinction between the victims’ families and the position of my clients as family members who, through no fault of their own, have equally suffered the loss of a relative.’
Yesterday Ian Wise QC, representing Miss Patel, told the High Court that she wanted legal aid ‘so that she can be represented to make representations on the resumption of the inquest into the death of her husband and whether it should be joined to the existing inquest’.
He referred to Miss Patel as the wife of the ‘alleged ringleader’, saying she could help the inquest by providing information. But Lord Justice Thomas demanded to know what information Miss Patel had that she had not already told police, warning that any application to include the bombers in the inquest would cause a delay.
Ashley Underwood QC, representing the Lord Chancellor, said Miss Patel wanted legal aid only to defend her reputation.
Clifford Tibber of Oury Clark Solicitors, which represents several victims’ families, said: ‘They have waited for more than five years for this and for them to wait any longer would be devastating for them.’
Miss Patel, who was born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, married Khan in 2002 after they met at Dewsbury College, where both were studying to work in the education sector.
She has described her husband as a ‘good person’ who was brainwashed by Islamic militants.