A remarkable man

 

OUR INTERVIEW today with Garri Holness, a survivor of the 7/7 bombings, demonstrates the sheer resilience of the human spirit in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. It also highlights the continued trauma of many of the 7/7 bombing survivors - and their wait for compensation. Mr Holness is astonishingly cheerful and positive considering that he lost part of one leg in the King's Cross bomb and is still learning to walk on his new prosthetic limb. Yet he is still waiting for payment - indeed the slowness and the inadequacy of the compensation are among the few things he seems angry about.

 

Around 30 of the most seriously injured victims have received interim payments for their injuries; they will have to wait some while yet to get payments to cover their loss of potential earnings. The payments when they come will still be inadequate to cover even part of their costs. But for hundreds of other survivors living with posttraumatic stress disorder and other mental and physical scars, compensation is a long way off: they are being told by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) that they will have to wait eight to 12 months from the time of their claims; 12 months is the standard time period for tackling even the most minor compensation claims. Survivors have had to complete CICA's standard form, with long and irrelevant questions ("Who injured you? Please give full name if known" "Were the police told about the incident?") The delays often make matters harder too for the thousands of family members supporting them.

 

Clearly CICA needs to make proper enquiries to prevent fraud. But length of the wait and the bureaucracy involved is excessive: at present, CICA is incapable of responding quickly to those in most urgent need of help. The Home Office has signalled that it realises there is a problem and has promised a consultation paper in December with options for reform - but so far there has been no comment from any minister.

 

Garri Holness and the survivors of 7/7 deserve better than this.