Girlfriend of French London Bridge terror attack victim condemns police
The loved ones of Frenchman Xavier Thomas have criticised police, MI5 and other British authorities for failing to prevent the London Bridge attack.
The 45-year-old’s girlfriend Christine Delcros insisted the attackers had not succeeded in sowing “chaos, fear and hatred”, and said education was key to stopping the spread of extremism.
Ms Delcros, who was injured in the attack, criticised authorities for not acting to put up barriers on London Bridge after the Westminster attack and said opportunities were missed to identify the risk posted by ringleader Khuram Butt.
In an emotional statement, she said: “On June 3 2017, the terrorists tried to sow chaos, fear and hatred. They tried in vain to extinguish our joy, our hope, our love.
“But in the end, they failed. They did not reach my soul. I feel nothing but love, in my heart and in my soul. Love is the best rampart against hatred.
“The feelings and emotions which burn the strongest, are those of love and compassion shown by all those who came to our rescue – many risking their lives.
“Dr Jonathan Moses, who saved me that night, Geoffroy Huet who had carried his wounded friend onto the bridge, and held my head and kept me awake, Holly Jones who witnessed our last moments of love, who first made a call for help.
“The support, courage and humanity demonstrated by all those who came forward that night and in the days, weeks and months that followed, and the incredible care I received at King’s College Hospital, will stay with me forever.
“Xavier was intensely passionate both about his life and the people he loved. He was not so much interested in living to a great age as he was in living his life with intensity, to the full.
“Since that fateful day, time has stood still. People urge me to move forward but time feels as though it is suspended. I am inconsolable. Moving on is too far away. My life is a daily battle, one day at a time.
“Our love for each other is what keeps me alive now; Xavier is my guide and is carrying me through this, one step at a time; I know love always wins in the end.
“This event unleashed a veritable tsunami, the ripples of which have impacted so many of our loved ones. Not only those who were there on the night, but their families, their friends and communities. But Xavier would want us all to carry on with life, each of us at our own pace.
“I do not wish to dwell on the effects of these attacks. We must take a broader view at what should be done upstream to enable us to live in harmony and draw lessons from this for the future. Education is where we should start. That should be our number one priority.
“Education must be based on helping each other and on kindness. We are focused on knowledge and competition, but knowledge alone won’t enrich our society. What brings value to the world and makes it a more beautiful place is the wealth we carry in our hearts.
“If we want to fight terrorism, our whole value system must change. We must learn to listen, share, cooperate and include so that nobody is left behind.
“But this should not detract from facing the failures which I believe allowed this abominable act to take Xavier’s life.
“The absence of necessary preventative measures on the bridge, despite repeated, urgent warnings about the risk to pedestrians on the bridge from experts who knew the risks to the public; and imperfect communication between authorities meant that opportunities to identify all the attackers and disrupt their activities did not occur.
“City of London Police counter terrorism security adviser, Pc Matthew Hone, repeatedly warned of the risks to London Bridge months before the attack. London Bridge had in fact become his primary security concern.
“In the days leading up to the attack, and whilst on paternity leave, he tried to sound the alarm through a message marked of ‘High’ Importance, yet no action was taken to provide physical security on the bridge. Just one of a catalogue of failings. I believe this attack was preventable.
“I find it staggering that [Khuram] Butt, a well-known extremist was allowed to work within the London Transport network, to have access to and teach young children, and to rent and use a vehicle in a manner now too often encountered. I am dismayed SO15 did not pass this critical information to any of his employers.”
Mr Thomas’s parents Christiane and Philippe Pesez said their son loved life, his job at American Express, and his children Noemie and Nicolas, who were 24 and 17 when he was killed.
He was a very active person with a unique sense of humour, and his death left “wounds that cannot heal”.
The couple said: “It is clear to us that events would have unfolded differently, had appropriate protective measures been installed on London Bridge, particularly in the light of the recent attack on Westminster Bridge, just over one month before.
“The rescue effort on the Thames was called off after a short time, which we feel is unacceptable, and appropriate coordination between different parts of the rescue effort, as well as between the various security services, MI5, the Metropolitan Police, City of London Police and British Transport Police, seems with hindsight to have been seriously lacking.
“It also seems to us that a number of elements in the behaviour and demeanour of the terrorists failed to be picked up, although at least one of the attackers had been on MI5’s radar for a very long time, and there had clearly been many opportunities to link him to both other accomplices, we believe opportunities that were missed and lost.
“We have followed the inquest with great attention, and although we have welcomed hearing all the evidence first hand, we have not been appeased by much of what we have heard.
“It is our opinion that many opportunities were missed to identify, disturb and prevent the murderous actions of three men in their preparation of this act of terror.
“We sincerely hope that all the evidence we have heard will serve to draw lessons and truly prevent future casualties and loss of life.”