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 Independent Police Complaints Commission published its Stockwell One report into the killing of Jean Charles De Menezes today. The report is not easy to find on the IPCC website but the Yorkshire Ranter has managed to track down the link. A pdf copy is also available via the BBC.
Smearing the victim is all too common in deaths in custody cases, and it's about time somebody was held accountable, so I agree with those who say that Ian Blair should resign over the death of Jean Charles De Menezes.
At 9.33 De Menezes left the flats through the communal door. There
was no way for officers to tell from which flat he came. In fact he had
left flat 17, which was not the suspect address.
officer seconded from the SAS was relieving himself as De Menezes left.
He was codenamed Frank and radioed in to the control room at Scotland
Yard. He said he could not tell whether the person was Osman, but
correctly identified him as white and as not carrying anything. He
said: "It might be worth somebody else having a look." (Vikram Dodd, The Guardian)
Dodd's piece points to a remarkable number of questions that are still unanswered about the De Menezes case, many of which are also raised by Alex Harrowell:
The first thing that strikes me about this is that we still don't know
quite a few interesting things about the decisions that led up to the
shooting; for example, why the firearms squad took so long to rock up,
who was responsible for the briefing they received, which appears to
have been little else than an aggression-building pep talk, or who
actually decided to call off the stop outside the tube station. (Yorkshire Ranter)
Yesterday's Sunday Express carried what it claims is a picture of a soldier from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment outside De Menezes' flat in Tulse Hill.
The Sunday Express may not be the most credible paper just now, but its worth remembering that, according to Peter Taylor's Panorama documentary, an undercover soldier was the first person to see De Menezes leaving the flat, and supposedly got no positive identification or video footage because he was answering a call of nature. Taylor's description implies a member of the SRR. As ever, there seems to be a lot of confusion/overlap between them and the SAS.
One hopes that the MPA will now move on and ask some of the questions I tried to raise with the MOD last year. Up to now the complete lack of accountability concerning the Army's role has been remarkable.
The MOD has now replied refusing to answer any of the questions I asked. One of the exemptions relied on by the MOD, 44(2) looks as if it might be related to contempt of court, presumably a reference to the current proceedings against the Metropolitan Police. One would hope that case will produce some of the answers I was looking for.
I expected the court case would affect the reply (especially questions 4,5 and 6 below), but from looking at the other exemptions mentioned it seems pretty clear that the Freedom of Information Act excludes the kind of questions I wanted to ask pretty comprehensively.
I have nevertheless set out the substantive part of the reply below, as an indication of the kind of questions to which we are not allowed an answer. The lack of an answer to questions 1,2 and 3 especially, is perhaps an indication of the lack of accountability of some elements of the state for their role in events which led to the death of an innocent man.
Note: I'm indebted to SpyBlog for the inspiration for questions 7,8 and 9. __________________________________________________________________
Arab newspapers have been drawing some interesting parallels in relation to the News of the World's video of army brutality in Basra.
The Saudi Gazette.. ..pours scorn on the idea that this was just an isolated incident caused by a few rogue elements within allied forces.
"No-one, especially in the Arab world, seriously believes for a nanosecond that the only time that abuse of Iraqis by British troops takes place is when it is captured on film," the editorial argues.
"British squaddies have a reputation for violence," it alleges, citing the investigation into the deaths of four young soldiers at the Deepcut training barracks as an example.
"The treatment of the young Iraqis required the tacit consent of officers and other soldiers present when this particular incident took place. The 'few rotten apples' theory just won't do," the commentator concludes. (BBC News)
As it happens, the Deepcut and Beyond relatives were in Blackpool this past weekend to lobby Labour's centenary conference. They issued the following statement:
The Independent Police Complaints Comissionruled today that there should be no disciplinary action against the two Metropolitan Police officers who shot dead Scotsman Harry Stanley in Hackney in 1999, in the mistaken belief that the wooden table-leg he was carrying was a sawn off shotgun.
The IPCC nevertheless criticised the police procedure for writing up post incident reports:
we do recommend that the police service consider very carefully whether their current post incident procedures, which are not significantly changed since Mr Stanley’s death, are in the best interests of their officers and the public interest.
The police cannot have it both ways. The IPCC has already made it clear that our investigators will not treat officers who fire fatal shots on duty as suspects unless there is evidence to suggest that a criminal offence may have been committed. If that is the case, it is difficult to see why they should not be treated immediately like any other significant witness, who are not given access to legal advice and permitted to pool their recollections before giving an account. Video recordings of incident debriefs, which could later be shown if necessary alongside expert advice about the effect of perceptual distortion on the accounts, would provide a credibility with the public that is lacking in the present system.
We recommend that the ACPO Committee on the Police Use of Firearms in conjunction with the IPCC revise the current protocol as a matter of urgency. (IPCC decision)
Mr Stanley's widow Irene had this to say:
“I am bitterly disappointed by the IPCC decision to accept the Surrey Police report on discipline charges. The officers walk away even though their accounts ‘lack credibility’. This isn’t justice. The public can’t have confidence in a system that ends this way. I fear the police will see this as a green light for their ‘shoot to kill’ policy and that innocent people are at greater risk from armed police after today’s decision.”
Support the Ashley family tomorrow morning at the Court of Appeal Court room 71 East wing. 10.30am. Bring your banners
Ashley family plan to sue police
Relatives of a man shot dead by police eight years ago are to ask the Royal Court of Justice for permission to sue the force's former chief constable. James Ashley, 39, of Liverpool, was unarmed and naked when he was shot during a drugs raid at his flat in St Leonards, Hastings, in 1998. (BBC News)
Commemoration of the 6 month anniversary of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes
On 22nd July 2005, Jean Charles de Menezes was killed by police at Stockwell tube station. He was shot 8 times, 7 times in the head. Following his death, the police misled Jean Charles' family and the public about his death.
Six months later, his family still await with the truth around the circumstances of his death.
We invite you all to show solidarity with the family of Jean Charles by joining us at Stockwell tube station to lay flowers and remember Jean Charles.