10 questions that put Met chief’s job on the line

The 10 questions that put Met chief’s job on the line
By Philip Johnston, Home Affairs Editor, and Andrew Downie, in Rio de Janeiro
(Filed: 18/08/2005)

Family and friends of the Brazilian man shot by police on the London Underground yesterday demanded the resignation of Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, if it turned out that he misled the public about the circumstances of the tragedy.

They said that he was "ultimately responsible" for the officers who gunned down Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year-old electrician, thinking he was a suicide bomber, and for the "catalogue of disasters" that led to his death.

Leaked confidential witness statements suggest that Mr de Menezes was already being restrained before he was shot seven times in the head and had not run from police by vaulting over the ticket barrier at Stockwell Underground station as originally stated. He had used his travel card, picked up a free newspaper and made his way slowly to the platform by escalator.

He was dressed in a light denim jacket, not a heavy coat, raising additional questions about why the police believed that his behaviour and clothing were suspicious.

Further information disclosed by ITV News last night showed that a three-man police team was already on the Tube train watching Mr de Menezes.

When a firearms unit arrived, one of the surveillance team, codenamed Hotel 3, shouted: "He’s here." The armed police then rushed on and shot Mr de Menezes.

Although statements made that day may have been confused by the speed of events, the police subsequently made no obvious effort to correct the misleading reports.


Lawyers acting for the relatives said they no longer had any faith in the formal investigation being conducted by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and issued a list of questions they wanted answered. The IPCC promised a "thorough and impartial" investigation and said it was planning to inform the family’s lawyers of its latest findings today.

In the town of Gonzaga where Mr de Menezes grew up, his cousin said the leaks confirmed what members of the family suspected or knew.

"We never believed the English police," Leide de Menezes said. "They say they are so efficient, so right, but what kind of efficiency is this?"

Asad Rehman, of the Justice4Jean campaign, said that if Sir Ian were found to have misled Mr de Menezes’s family, his position would be "no longer tenable".

He said: "It is clear that the buck stops with him. He has to bear responsibility for the failure of this policy and for the incidents of that day."


John O’Connor, a former Scotland Yard police commander, said the latest disclosures were "catastrophic" and would put Sir Ian under pressure.

"Whoever has leaked this report has caused him a great deal of embarrassment," he told BBC Television.

In a statement, the family’s lawyers said the leaked documents, believed to be part of the IPCC’s interim findings, show that "virtually the entire body of information" released by the police had been false or misleading.

"From the beginning, the most senior of police officers and ministers, including the Prime Minister, claimed the death of Jean Charles to be an unfortunate accident occurring in the context of an entirely legitimate, justifiable, lawful and necessary policy,” they said. "In the context of the lies now revealed, that claim has become even less sustainable and even more alarming."

Extracts of the IPCC inquiry also suggest that the surveillance team watching the block of flats from which Mr de Menezes emerged on the morning of July 22 – the day after the failed bomb attacks in London – did not clearly identify him as one of the suspected bombers before he was trailed by firearms officers.

The Home Office and the police said they could not comment while the IPCC investigation was continuing. Scotland Yard confirmed that Sir Ian had written to the Home Office on the morning of Mr de Menezes’s death "to clarify the role of IPCC if, as it then appeared", the shooting involved a suicide bomber who had been involved in the attempted bombings.

”This was because it was crucial that the terrorist investigation took precedence over any IPCC investigation at that time," the force said.




© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.


Published in: on August 18, 2005 at 2:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

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