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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 November 2005, 13:28 GMT
Bombs families' 'feel sidelined'
Mrs Fatayi-Williams speaks out in the days after the bombings
Mrs Fatayi-Williams made a poignant speech after the attacks
The families of some victims of the July bombings in London say they have felt "overlooked" by the government, ahead of a national memorial service.

One woman who lost her mother said she felt "sidelined" during preparations for the St Paul's Cathedral service.

A bereaved mother who made an emotional speech after the attacks said she had not been contacted again since being asked to contribute to the service.

The government said it had been working for victims' families since day one.

But one victim's father said relatives should have been contacted sooner.

Sean Cassidy, who lost his 22-year-old son Ciaran in the Piccadilly Line blast, said he felt relatives' concerns had not been a priority.

He said, while the memorial service "may be a good thing", the government should have made contact earlier.

Like any other normal murder we need to know what's going on and that applies to the police as well
Saba Mozakka

"We had contact last week with Tessa Jowell. But the government were having contact with the Muslim community within 24 hours of the bombs going off.

"Why didn't they come and see some of us? We were the ones who were suffering."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) - which has responsibility for the aftercare of victims - said it had been working to help victims' families since day one.

'Best friend'

Saba Mozakka, whose mother Behnaz was killed in the same explosion, told BBC Breakfast she felt "sidelined" by the government in their preparations for Tuesday's event.

While she was glad the service was being held, she said some relatives and survivors had not been sufficiently consulted about the form the service should take.

"We are pleased the government has taken this initiative but we want them to talk to us more. We want them to consider we are suffering at the moment and we do have an input."

She said they had heard nothing from the government until a meeting was arranged with Tessa Jowell last week at two days' notice.

Sean Cassidy
Mr Cassidy said he felt families were not a top priority

"It just feels we have been totally sidelined," she said.

Describing her mother as her "best friend" Ms Saba described how she, her brother, father and around 60 friends searched London's hospitals after the bombings in the hope her mother would be found.

"As far as we are concerned my mother has been murdered. Like any other normal murder we need to know what's going on and that applies to the police as well."

Also speaking on BBC Breakfast Marie Fatayi-Williams, who made an emotional plea to stop "this vicious cycle of killing" in the days after the attacks, said she had some reservations about the service.

Her son Anthony was killed on the No 30 bus in Tavistock Square.

Four days later, as she waited for confirmation of what had happened to him, she asked in a public speech: "How many mothers' hearts shall be maimed?"

Mrs Fatayi-Williams said she felt the victims' families were being overlooked four months on.

'Just a number'

She said she had received a letter asking if she would like to contribute to the memorial service but, when she requested the hymn Magnificat be included, she heard nothing back.

She had since learnt it will not be part of the service, she said.

Since the tragedy struck she had wanted to reach out to other grief-stricken mothers, she added.

"Other mothers' hearts must be bleeding like mine. It's the same blood flowing through our veins and the same death pangs and the same love for our children and so when one is taken so brutally from you, you want to know.

"It's as if you are just a number, you do not count."

Mrs Fatayi-Williams has set up the Anthony Fatayi-Williams Foundation for Peace and Conflict Resolution in honour of her son.

We take advice from bereavement specialists who say we should be too invasive
DCMS spokeswoman

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell had worked with family liaison officers and the Red Cross to immediately set up the family assistance centre, with which she is still in weekly contact, said the department spokeswoman.

Family were asked if they wanted direct contact from the government or to get information via liaison officers.

Just over two months after the bombings each family received a condolence letter with details of the memorial service, and were given the chance to get in touch with problems or questions, she said.

"We take advice from bereavement specialists who say we should be not too invasive or bombard people with government letters while they are grieving, but obviously we are learning how to deal with this kind of situation and we will take their feelings and concerns on board."

She said the meeting with Ms Jowell last week was arranged on a tight timescale when it became clear some families wanted to have more of a say over the ceremony, with some wishing to meet the minister prior to the event.

Families who could not make it were also offered some alternative dates after Tuesday's service, she added.




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