7/7 Memorial vandalised hours before 9th anniversary of attack

By Richard Spillett Daily Mail

Families of those killed in the 7/7 attacks on London nine years ago lay flowers on the memorial in Hyde Park

Families of those killed in the 7/7 attacks on London nine years ago lay flowers on the memorial in Hyde Park

Relatives of those killed in the July 7 bombings joined survivors for an emotional ceremony to remember the 52 people who died nine years ago today.

A minute’s silence was held at the 7/7 memorial in London’s Hyde Park this lunchtime before the name of each of those killed in the terror attacks was read out.

More than 150 people attended the service and sent a defiant message to the vandals who defaced the memorial in the early of hours of this morning.

The memorial’s stainless steel columns had been daubed with red and black slogans overnight with the messages ‘4Innocent Muslims’, ‘Blair Lied Thousands Died’ and ‘J7 Truth’.

But, after park workers moved in to quickly clean up the spray paint, families arrived to remember their loved ones.

Four suicide bombers detonated rucksack devices in four locations in the capital on the morning of July 7 2005, killing the 52 and injuring hundreds of others, some seriously.

Remembering the attacks, Del Penberthy, duty manager at Edgware Road tube station where one of the bombs went off, said today: ‘It was the worst day of my life. And the next week, and two weeks, and so on. But the response of everybody was amazing, as it was said in the speeches, off-duty staff, cleaners and everybody stopped their lunches, or whatever, to try and help out.

‘I was one of the first down there and at first I thought it had derailed but as we got down there you could smell something like gun powder in the air. It was dark, and smoky but we tried to the best of our abilities to help out.

Many who attended said they would not be bowed by the actions of vandals who had tried to ruin the event by covering the memorial in graffiti last night.

Elizabeth Nicholson, whose sister, Jennifer, was killed in the Edgware Road bomb[ing], said the event was a means for people to ‘show their love’ for the victims and she had no interest in the apparent graffiti protest.

‘I have no interest in dwelling on it (the vandalism) it is not something I consider to be important. I am here for my sister, I want to celebrate her,’ she said at the ceremony.

‘She was very beautiful, vivacious, and full of life. She had a smile that if she walked into a room, it would light it up. She was such a beautiful human being. It feels like part of me has been ripped away.

‘It is something that does not change, it is not a feeling that diminishes with time, it becomes part of your life.’

Mick Ellis, deputy assistant commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, added: ‘It is a travesty that somebody tried to turn a memorial into a political event, it is not about politics it is about remembering.

‘But Transport for London, Royal Parks, and the Met police have done a fantastic job of cleaning it up.

‘I think the message is that we all had the terrible experience of July 7 and then the next attacks just weeks later. But we got through it, and like today it shows that London will not be beaten.’

Park workers rushed to clean the memorial, which was visited by victims' families today, and police say they are examining CCTV footage as part of an investigation into the vandalism

Park workers rushed to clean the memorial, which was visited by victims’ families today, and police say they are examining CCTV footage as part of an investigation into the vandalism

Ros Morley, whose 52-year-old husband Colin died when the bomb went off at Edgware Road, told of her sadness at the vandalism, but said she would not let it affect her. She said: ‘It is sad that someone could stoop so low, to damage something that represents such a tragic event in the history of London. People have to pay their respects, so they (the culprits) should have thought before they acted in a terrible way.’

‘I won’t let it affect me, I’m looking past that, someone acted in a thoughtless way. I would say to the person who did this to think before they act. I would like them to think how they would feel if they were going to pay their respects to a loved one?’

A spokeswoman for the Royal Parks said the slogans had been removed after they were discovered early this morning by the park’s manager.

She said: ‘We found it this morning. It has now been removed and the memorial can go ahead as planned. Obviously, we are very disappointed.’

John Falding, whose partner Anat Rosenberg, a 39-year-old charity worker, was killed in the Tavistock Square bus bomb, also condemned the vandalism.

He said: ‘It is quite shocking, whoever did it was aiming for publicity and to cause maximum grief.’

The memorial hosted a ceremony today to remember those who died in the bombings nine years ago

He said he would not be attending the event today but would be observing the anniversary privately.

The monument honouring the 52 dead in the attack on London’s transport system in 2005 cost nearly £1 million and has 52 stainless steel columns, which are 11.5ft tall.

It was unveiled in 2009 at a memorial attended by the Prince of Wales, the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other political leaders.

The columns are grouped together in four clusters, reflecting the separate locations of the bombings – Tavistock Square, Edgware Road, King’s Cross and Aldgate.

A ceremony took place at the memorial at midday today when survivors of the four blasts as well as those who went to help them spoke to those gathered.

A minute’s silence was held before the names of each of the 52 people who died were read out. Floral tributes were also laid at the memorial.

A spokesman for ceremony organisers,The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace, said: ‘It’s disappointing that someone felt like they had to do this but everyone has rallied around to get it cleared up and that’s what London’s about.

‘This is a day for the families and the survivors and we are pleased that it’s still able to go ahead.’

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, added: ‘I am shocked and saddened by this incident. It is completely unacceptable and the Metropolitan police is already investigating. I am pleased that the graffiti has been removed so quickly and that today’s commemoration ceremony can go ahead as planned.’

He added: ‘The focus today should be, and indeed will be, on honouring the 52 innocent people who died on 7/7, the survivors and all those affected by the terrible events of nine years ago.’

Police said they have begun investigations into the vandalism and are examining CCTV footage.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘The 7/7 memorial was vandalised in the early hours of the morning. Words were graffitied on to it. No arrests have been made and police are making inquiries.’

The suicide bombings were carried out by Hasib Hussain, Mohammad Sidique Khan, Jermaine Lindsay, Shehzad Tanweer who all died.

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