London bombings train driver compensated30 January 2009
A tube train driver who helped seriously injured passengers following the London bombings has won a three-year fight for compensation with the backing of his union.
Stuart Bell, 57, from Cheshunt in Hertfordshire was driving a train in the London Underground in July 2005 when four bombs exploded on three trains and a bus killing 52 people.
Despite being psychologically traumatised by the event and being forced to go on sick leave for nearly a year he was denied compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Association (CICA), a government organisation which pays money to those who have been physically or mentally injured because they were the victims of a violent crime.
It was only after Mr Bell’s union, the RMT and its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors reviewed the decision that he was offered CICA’s minimum award of just £1,000. Following an appeal CICA eventually awarded Mr Bell £4,400.
Mr Bell was driving a train in the underground when the attacks happened. He drove his train to Russell Square where he helped passengers injured from the bomb which had gone off on the southbound Piccadilly Line train.
The dad of four said: “It was horrendous. I helped with the evacuation of the station at Russell Square before the police arrived. Some of the passengers were in a terrible state.
“I’m not a hero. I did what I could to help, just like anyone would but the events of that day will always be with me.
“I was off work for 11 months afterwards. I couldn’t believe it when CICA said that because I was not at reasonable fear of immediate physical harm I was not entitled to compensation. I may not have sustained a physical injury but mentally the events of that day will never leave me. We had no idea how many bombs there were and now it is a constant fear while driving in the underground.”
“Compensation will not make up for what happened on that day. I believe the way compensation is paid through CICA should be reviewed.”
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: “The CICA’s approach to this case was extremely unsympathetic. Mr Bell had to wait almost three years to get this result. Without the support of his union he would never have challenged CICA’s first decision to deny him compensation or their first offer of £1,000.”
Andrew Hutson from Thompsons Solicitors has dealt with more than 25 CICA London Bombings claims for the RMT.
He said: “Mr Bell’s actions on the day of the bombings were heroic. He helped dozens of underground passengers to safety and provided first aid to those who were injured in surroundings which resembled a battleground. He may not have been injured in the blasts himself but as a result of his actions he suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and was on sick leave for 11 months.
“It is only right that he is compensated on the same level as someone who was physically injured by the bombings.”