BY TOBY PORTER
Firms who lose thousands of pounds as a result of terror attacks can claim the shortfall back – but it will not help Borough Market traders decimated in the London Bridge killings last year.
Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP Neil Coyle has praised the Government for changing the law after his campaign – but slammed it for not applying it retrospectively.
The Acts of Terror Insurance Act 1993, implemented to tackle the fallout from IRA bombs and murders, is to be updated to take into account the new realities of jihadi and cyber terrorism.
But Mr Coyle, who sits on the Parliamentary Counter Terrorism and Border Security Bill Committee, has criticised the Home Office for now allowing Borough Market traders to claw back their huge losses from the attack on June 3 last year.
“At last the Government has voted to include some provision in the Border Security Bill 2018,” he said. “At least they have done it for any future attack.
“But the market traders lost £2million, with 150 businesses being closed for 11 days.
“People lost stock, produce, even access to their stalls. Some lost staff because employees left because of the trauma.
So there were also recruitment costs – and safety and security measures to introduce.
“Their losses were not covered by insurance despite the Government being warned well before the attacks that it was a risk they might be very significant.
They have been. “I was seeking retrospective action. The Government has fought against that. It surprised me.
“The public donated £200,000. Sadiq Khan and City Hall gave £300,000. Local firms donated.
There has been an outpouring of support that the Government has relied on to help these firms.”
Prime Minister Theresa May visited a year ago and Treasury officials also met the board of the Borough Market Trust, which waved rents of the stall holders.
“But the government departments gave nothing,”, said Mr Coyle.
“There is a bit of me that is quite angry the Government has not offered proper support.
“The market and Southwark Cathedral have helped bring the community together since the devastating attack by those three savage cowards.
They have helped breathe new life into the area.
“But business in January was still 10 per cent lower than before the attack.”
The Government says its amendment ensures cover to firms in line with modern terrorist methods and the financial losses that result from them.
It says making a retrospective change could undermine the proper functioning of the private insurance market and potentially cause legal uncertainty for the balance of risks and liabilities in pre-existing private contractual relationships.
A spokesman for HM Treasury said: “We understand the concerns that businesses have about the terrorism insurance gap, that’s why we have committed to amend the law and close the gap as soon as Parliamentary time allows.”
Mr Coyle also slammed the online donations firm Justgiving for taking more than £11,000 of the cash raised by well-wishers.
“It is a brilliant site which helps causes raise money,” he said.
“But it takes five per cent of donations, on top of the £30-a-month admin and membership fees, which comes to £500 a year. No one should make a profit from terrorism.
That five per cent rakeoff has to be scrapped. The profit motive in these instances is offensive and unacceptable.”
Justgiving stressed the membership/admin fee is optional – charities, particularly small/medium ones can join for free.
The site also now gives the option for donors to pay an admin fee to keep the platform at the cutting edge on top of their donation and therefore saving the charity money and donating more.
A spokesman for Justgiving said it had also donated £10,000 to Borough Market and added: “JustGiving is incredibly proud of the work we do day in, day out to support hundreds of thousands of good causes by tens of millions of people every year, often in the most difficult of circumstances.
The small fee allows us to instantly enable people to give safely and securely within moments of an incident taking place, raising incredible amounts for those most in need.”
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