Jihadi’s Widow Granted 15K in Legal Aid: Victim’s Families Denied Funding
The English taxpayer has shelled out over £15,000 to the widow of the mastermind behind the 2017 London Bridge terror attack, while the families of victims were denied similar financial support.
Zahrah Rehman — the widow of Islamic State-inspired Pakistani-born husband Khuram Butt — was given £15,660 in legal aid for the inquest into the death of her husband and his two jihadi accomplices. She was provided with a group of stand-funded solicitors as well as a QC during the inquiry.
While Rehman was given taxpayer support, the families of the victims were not afforded an automatic right to be legally represented during the inquiries.
James Hodder — the boyfriend of Australian nurse Kirsty Boden, who was stabbed to death during the attack while trying to save other victims — said: “I’m sure she [Ms Rehman] needed financial aid quite rightly, but so did we. What’s the difference?”
“I would demand a fully transparent justification for why the attackers’ families are supported by the state but none of the victims’ families were given a single penny,” he said.
He concluded: “Representation at the inquest was essential. The inquest involves incredibly complex and niche areas of law.
“Without a trained legal team you stand no chance of being able to scrutinise proceedings and ensure lessons can be learnt. You simply can’t engage with the inquest without legal support.”
Aside from funding the legal expenses of the terrorist’s widow, the public also spent some £781,784 to represent the Metropolitan Police and the London Ambulance Service.
The Ministry of Justice said: “Bereaved families at inquests have a special status which means that the coroner can ask questions on their behalf to help ensure they get the answers they need.”
During the inquest, Zahrah Rehman claimed that she was unaware of her jihadi husband’s terroristic intentions, saying: “We were living together. But it was almost as if we were living different lives.
“I knew it was a possibility that he wanted to go to Syria… but he never told me that he hates this country and wanted to attack this country.”
In video evidence provided to the hearing, Ms Rehman is seen talking with her extremist husband about naming British airports after radical Islamists.
She even suggested renaming a London airport after the Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary, whom her husband was a supporter. Rehman claimed that it was “just a stupid joke”.
Another video presented before the inquiry showed the couple on their honeymoon in Pakistan and her husband hailing “Dawlat al-Islamiyah” – a monicker for Islamic State. Rehman denied that she understood what Butt was saying, claiming she could not understand Arabic.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the chief coroner for England and Wales, Mark Lucraft QC, said that he was not convinced by her testimony, claiming that she and the other associates of Butt knew “something of his extreme views”.
Butt and his two jihadi accomplices killed eight people during a rabid ten-minute attack, which saw another 48 injured, as they ploughed people over with a van and stabbing bystanders with knives on London Bridge.