In recent weeks, Sir Ian Blair's defenders have made much of the idea that criticism over the death of Jean Charles De Menezes risks undermining the fight against the genuine threat of suicide bombers.
Yet one of the many disturbing things that emerges clearly from the IPCC's Stockwell One report is that the Met might have faced even tougher questions if a suicide bomber had emerged from the flat in Scotia Road on 22 July 2005, because they completely failed to act on the plan that had been put in place to stop him.
The strategy set by the Gold Commander was not implemented. The strategy made it clear that all persons leaving Scotia Road would be stopped either as suspects or as potential intelligence sources. Six persons left the flats before Mr DE MENEZES. Due to insufficient resources being in place, none were stopped. (Stockwell One - Recommendation Four)
There was a substantial delay between the time the firearms team were
requested and when they were deployed. By the time Mr DE MENEZES left
Scotia Road at 09:33hrs CO19 officers were still not in place despite being
initially requested at 05:05hrs. (Stockwell One - Recommendation Six)
An addendum to the main report raises even more questions about this delay:
THE DEPLOYMENT OF CO19 RESOURCES
1.1 ‘Alan’ from S012 was working at New Scotland Yard when he attended
a meeting with Commander MCDOWALL and other officers around
04:30hrs – 05:00hrs on 22 July 2005 when Commander MCDOWALL
gave the following instructions. ‘The S012 armed surveillance team
were to attend the location and covertly deploy front and rear of the
premises to establish surveillance control of both the venue and the
subjects. In the event that either of the suspect persons were to leave
the premises then action would be taken. That action was to challenge
the subject(s), and stop them. S019 Firearms officers were to be
deployed to the address as soon as practicable whilst S012 Armed
surveillance officers were to be deployed immediately’.
1.2 At 05:05hrs ‘Alan’ telephoned the CO19 Tactical Advisor, Inspector
ZAJ and requested that a CO19 Firearms team attend Scotia Road.
‘Alan’ also instructed ‘Bernard’ to brief the S019 officers and show
photographs of the two suspects. He states ’Later, I contacted the
same officer and told him to cancel my previous instructions and
therefore not show photographs’.
1.3 Inspector ZAJ states that the night duty firearms team were called to
New Scotland Yard and told to remain on standby pending any
potential requirement to deploy. He remained at New Scotland yard
until 07:00hrs when he was relieved by Chief Inspector ZAL.
1.4 ‘Bernard’ states that ‘I had been trying to assimilate relevant
information for perhaps an hour, when I was told by ‘Alan’, that I would
no longer be required to complete or deliver the briefing’.
1.5 Commander MCDOWALL was re-interviewed and he confirmed that it
was his expectation that a unit from CO19 would be deployed to
Scotia Road but that it was for CO19 to make the decision as to how
and where to deploy its unit.
1.6 These further enquiries have failed to establish the reason why CO19
were not deployed to the Scotia Road area until after the time Mr DE
MENEZES left his flat at 09:33hrs, despite being apparently requested
to attend at 05:00hrs.
If there had been a suicide bomber he would have been able to leave Scotia Road, board and re-board a bus and enter the tube, where in the Met's own view he would have needed only an instant to detonate a bomb, right under the noses of a surveillance team that had been in place for three and a half hours.
The Met had four and a half hours to put in place a team to stop the supposed bomber. Indeed, they had a team that would have been ready to go in time, but for some reason they cancelled the briefing. So far nobody has deigned to tell Londoners why.