MI5 ‘watched London Bridge attackers load van two hours before terror attack’ - but did nothing

MI5 watched the London Bridge attackers load a van just two hours before they launched their terror attack, it has been reported.

The Sunday Times said intelligence officers watched and did nothing as ringleader Khuram Butt, 27, and his two accomplices prepared for their murder spree on June 3, 2017.

The trio were under surveillance that night and staked out crowds in Oxford Street and Trafalgar Square as potential targets before striking at London Bridge.

However, MI5 did not order police to intercept the terrorists because Butt had been downgraded as a priority and they didn’t think an attack was in progress, the Sunday Times reported.

It has been reported that MI5 were monitoring Khuram Butt on the day of the attacks (Picture: PA)

Eight people were killed in the attack last year, after Butt, along with Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, used the van as a battering ram to hit pedestrians on London Bridge, before running to nearby Borough Market and stabbing victims.

It was reported the men loaded the van with a large holdall before setting off from outside Butt’s flat in Barking, east London, just two hours before the attack.

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According to a report by David Anderson QC, the government’s former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Butt was still the subject of a “live investigation” on the day of the attack, meaning a team from MI5 and Scotland Yard were secretly watching him at key locations, a source told the Sunday Times.

Mr Anderson’s report states: “CCTV footage from Khuram Butt’s home address on the evening of the attack showed footage of Butt getting into a van, hired earlier that day… two males accompanied him.”

Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba carried out the attack (Picture: PA)
Victims of the London Bridge terrorist attack (top row left to right) Canadian Christine Archibald, James McMullan, Alexandre Pigeard, French chef Sebastien Belanger, (bottom row left to right) Australian nurse Kirsty Boden, Australian Sara Zelenak, Xavier Thomas and Spanish banker Ignacio Echeverria (Picture: PA)

Records of the van’s movements showed that the men scouted Trafalgar Square and Oxford Street first before deciding to carry out their attack at London Bridge.

The attack ended when the three men were shot dead by police.

Eight people were killed by the terrorists – Canadian Christine Archibald, James McMullan, Alexandre Pigeard, French chef Sebastien Belanger, Australian nurse Kirsty Boden, Australian Sara Zelenak, Xavier Thomas and Spanish banker Ignacio Echeverria.

Ms Boden’s boyfriend, James Hodder, said MI5 and the police have questions to answer.

He told the Sunday Times: “It’s important the authorities know that society, including the victims’ families, will hold them accountable for any errors.”

The boyfriend of victim Kirsty Boden says MI5 have questions to answer (Picture: PA)
The London Bridge attack took place last June (Picture: PA)

Butt was downgraded as a priority as MI5 believed he was more likely to join Isis in Iraq or Syria than plot an attack on British soil.

Inquests into the terror attack will be held next year at the Old Bailey, followed by a separate jury inquest into the deaths of the three attackers.

A pre-inquest hearing was told the three men had taken large quantities of steroids before the attack.