Survivors and families of those killed in the London Bridge and Borough Market terror attack have secured cash payouts ahead of the third anniversary of the atrocity.
On June 3 2017, eight people were killed and 48 more injured when terrorists ploughed into pedestrians in a hired van then ran amok with 12-inch knives.
Christine Archibald, 30, and Xavier Thomas, 45, died after being struck by the van on the bridge.
Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, and James McMullan, 32, were fatally stabbed near the Boro Bistro on the South Bank.
Ignacio Echeverria, 39, died as he tried to protect others from being attacked on nearby Borough High Street.
Ringleader Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, were confronted in Stoney Street and shot dead by police marksmen.
Lawyer Patrick Maguire, of Slater and Gordon – who represents some of the injured and victims’ families, said most of his clients had now settled compensation claims with Hertz’s insurer Probus for undisclosed sums.
FieldFisher, which represents the family of Ms Archibald, also confirmed it had reached a financial settlement.
In an interview with PA news agency, Mr Maguire said it was “massive” for the victims’ families.
He said: “No amount of money can ever replace a loved one, but what the settlement does do is it allows the families to be in no financially worse position than they would have been but for the attack.
“To some extent it will enable them to try and move on with their lives, not having any outstanding matters regarding this terrible attack hanging over them.
“There are just a small number outstanding and hopefully we will be able to get those resolved – despite everything going on with the lockdown at the moment – in the very near future.”
Mr Maguire explained how claims relating those hit by the van and those stabbed near the market fell into different categories.
A change in the law on March 31 2017 meant that if a vehicle was used as a weapon in a terrorist attack, the insurer would be liable.
It has meant survivors of the van attack could claim for rehabilitation, lost earnings and suffering.
And families of those who were mowed down and killed could claim damages for lost earnings and services that their loved-one provided.
In stark contrast, the Government-backed criminal injuries compensation authority is more “proscriptive”, Mr Maguire said.
Those with knife injuries would not have access to private rehab and lost earnings were not covered, he said.
Mr Maguire said: “It is sometimes quite difficult to explain to a client that they are entitled to one route of damages because they were affected or attacked by a different weapon – one with a car, one with a knife.”
An Old Bailey inquest last year into the victims’ deaths had heard how ringleader Butt was known to MI5 as a suspect of interest.
The attack he led bore “striking similarities” to two more recent incidents, again involving known extremists.
On 29 November 2019, five people were stabbed, two fatally, at Fishmongers’ Hall by convicted terrorist Usman Khan who had been released from prison on licence.
And on February 2, two people were injured in Streatham by knifeman Sudesh Amman, who had been jailed for having and sharing terrorist documents in 2018.
Mr Maguire said: “Time will tell in the evidence that comes out in those two cases whether indeed lessons have been learned.
“It would appear both of them had been in prison shortly before the attacks.
“That has some striking similarities to the London Bridge attack where Khuram Butt was known to the authorities.
“It would appear on the face of it that more could and possibly should be done to prevent further attacks like what happened in London Bridge, and in particular with the knowledge security services had of Khuram Butt.”
He suggested the length of sentences for those who plan or carry out attacks should be looked at, as well as how and when terrorists can be safely released back into the community.
He said: “How they are monitored, that is something which for sure needs to be explored, and I think that’s something that needs to be looked into at a Government level.”
He added: “I think every organisation that seeks or publicises any acts of terrorism against anyone is deplorable and that should be dealt with in the appropriate way.”
Mr Maguire said it was difficult to know whether the UK was safer now than in 2017, when there were a spate of attacks, including in Westminster, Manchester Arena and Finsbury Park.
But he said: “What is evident is that counter terrorism and our security services are stopping many other attacks and many of them don’t reach the public eye and it’s only when things go wrong they reach the public eye.”
In January, Chief Coroner Mark Lucraft QC made a series of recommendations to authorities, including police and security services, to prevent future deaths in light of the London Bridge inquest.
Mr Maguire said the “proof will be in the pudding” in the whether they will help protect the public in the future.
Jennifer Buchanan, a partner at Fieldfisher law firm who represented the Archibalds in their civil claim, said: “The horror of terrorist atrocities is that the most vulnerable – the least expecting – are at risk.
“Tragically, victims are in the wrong place at the wrong time and sustain devastating injuries or are killed through no fault of their own.
“I’m very pleased for the Archibalds that their case is settled. At a very modest level, civil claims offer some help to those affected and at least acknowledge society’s desire, and responsibility, to support them.
“We continue to campaign for a uniform and automatic government package of support to be available to anyone who is a victim of terrorist attack in the UK and for UK citizens injured abroad.
“Too many people are left with no idea where to turn immediately following a terrorist attack on them or a family member.”