Page last updated at 11:20 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 12:20 UK

How do we treat victims of terror?

By June Kelly
BBC News home affairs correspondent

Gordon Brown's remembrance wreath for 7/7 victims in 2007
Official remembrance: But were victims fairly treated?

On Tuesday, the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee publishes a fresh report on the 2005 London suicide bombings, after having been asked to look again at what the security services knew about the attackers. It's a report that has been long awaited by those left bereaved and injured - some of whom question how they have been treated.

When Beverli Rhodes left for the office on 7 July 2005, she was preparing for a challenging new phase in her career.

She was a security consultant specialising in counter-terrorism. The company she worked for was set to play a part in the planning for the 2012 Olympics.

London had been awarded the Games the day before. Beverli was on a Piccadilly line train at the height of the rush hour.

Terrorism is a direct response to our Government's policy - as a result of that you have an obligation to look after the people who are injured
Jason McCue, solicitor for victims

On the same train was Jermaine Lindsay, one of the four fanatics who had decided to kill themselves and commit mass murder on the transport system. Of the 52 people who died on 7th July, Jermaine Lindsay killed 26.

As the bomb went off Beverli Rhodes hit her face on one of the poles in the carriage.

For a time she was unconscious. When she came round she discovered some of her teeth had been knocked out. She had damaged her jaw and suffered a heavy blow to her chest.

During the past four years Beverli Rhodes' life has entered a new phase: It has been marked by multiple operations, a fear of travelling on the underground network and an end to her high-powered career.

"I had to do a lot of public and private speaking in my job," she explains."But now I've got a terrible balance problem because that was part of the area that was damaged so I have to take tablets all the time to stand upright. So it doesn't look very good because people assume you are drunk."

The fact that Beverli is too nervous to travel on the underground means her working opportunities in London are limited.

'Fight every step'

Four years on from the attacks Beverli Rhodes is highly critical about how she has been treated.

Beverli Rhodes who survived the 7/7 attacks
Beverli Rhodes: Too nervous to go underground

She says she will end up with £13,000 in compensation. She reckons that a big chunk of that will go on medical bills. She decided to opt for private surgery, to speed her recovery, rather than risk delays on an NHS waiting list.

"The first assumption is that the authorities are taking care of us and the compensation will be so great that we can retire and do nothing for the rest of our lives, which is absolutely wrong.

"You have to fight every step of the way to be taken care of by hospitals and doctors and you have to really push your case forward because if you don't you don't get anywhere."

There's a phrase you hear on big disaster days: the walking wounded. Like Beverli Rhodes, Veronica Singh was among those who survived the Kings Cross train.

Veronica tried to pick up her life - but she developed post traumatic stress disorder.After struggling for a year she had to give up her job as a PA.

"I am always scared. I don't sleep very well. I don't really enjoy life that much," she says. "Before, I was quite a loving caring person. I enjoyed doing things. Nothing seems a pleasure any more. You are literally just surviving."

Veronica says that some of the treatment she has received has been limited and has not continued for as long as she would have liked.

'Unwanted comparison'

Jason McCue is a lawyer who has represented many victims of terrorism. He believes they should be treated differently to other victims of crime.


647 people sought compensation
525 from injured; 122 from bereaved
550 payments made to date
All fatality claims "resolved"
Interim payments in 20 cases
23 injury cases still open
Source: Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority

He says: "This is a very difficult subject area because you end up making an unwanted comparison between different forms of victims. How can you say the loss of a father through a terrorist bomb, the family grieve any more than someone in a car accident?

"Terrorism is a direct response to our Government's policy. As a result of that you have an obligation to look after the people who are injured as a result of that. And I think there should be special criteria and compensation being one of them for victims of terrorism."

Mr McCue has represented many victims of terrorism in Northern Ireland. And in Northern Ireland compensation for victims of terrorism has been a contentious issue.

Earlier this year the Consultative Group on the Past, a body set up to find ways of dealing with Northern Ireland's violent legacy, recommended that all victims of the Troubles should receive a payment of £12,000.

The co-chairs, Lord Robin Eames and Denis Bradley, acknowledged that it would have meant the families of some of those who planted bombs receiving compensation too.

It was a proposal which provoked fury and which has now been dropped by ministers. But the anger around the Eames/Bradley proposal shows how difficult it can be to work out the role of compensation in a conflict.

While the 7/7 victims will study the ISC report in detail, Justice Secretary Jack Straw has also set up a working group to look at the issue of support for victims of terrorism.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said that £8.5m had been paid in compensation to more than 500 people who were bereaved or injured in the London attacks. It described the compensation scheme as one of the most generous in Europe.

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