This paper uses three different theories of truth to consider claims broadcast in two documentaries about the London bombings of 7th July 2005: 7/7 Ripple Effect and the BBC’s Conspiracy Files: 7/7. 7/7 Ripple Effect argues that the alleged bombers were not in central London when the bombs exploded, and supports this with press reports of shootings at Canary Wharf. To test this claim, press reports from Canary Wharf were retrieved using a search of the Nexis UK News Database for the period 7th to 30th July 2005. Further searches were made using Google to locate blogs and discussion forum archives from 7th July 2005. The findings are assessed using three different theories of truth. When adopting a correspondence theory of truth, it is just plausible that the evidence found supports the theory implicit in the BBC documentary. The theory presented in 7/7 Ripple Effect is also plausible. When deploying a coherence theory of truth, the thesis put forward by the government and BBC collapses due to low probability that four men would choose the same targets, at the same time, and on the same day as a simulated crisis management exercise organised by Visor Consultants. The thesis put forward in 7/7 Ripple Effect remains coherent with available evidence. A social constructivist (critical) perspective identifies cultural and political interests that influence the selection and interpretation of available evidence. While the paper concludes that both documentaries construct truth that supports their political outlook and agenda, the theory advanced in 7/7 Ripple Effect is better able to explain anomalies in the official account as well as the evidence of a crisis at Canary Wharf on the same day.
About the author
Dr Rory Ridley-Duff is a Senior Lecturer in Organisation Behaviour and Human Resource Management at Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University. Amongst other teaching duties, he is leader of Philosophies of Business and Management Research on an ESRC approved Masters in Social Science Research programme (MRes), and leader of Research Methods for the university’s Masters in Human Resource Management (MSc). He completed his PhD in 2005, and now regularly publishes papers in journals and as part of academic conference proceedings.