Friday, November 02, 2007

It Is the Deliberate Policy of the Metropolitan Police to Shoot People and Lie About It

Update: Right, I am somewhat calmer.

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.

Let's roll the tape; Cressida Dick told the court that she ordered the surveillance team to "stop" de Menezes outside the tube station, as the firearms squad had still not turned up, but that then "a senior colleague" informed her that they had, with the result that the order to stop him was countermanded and the firearms team sent in.

OK, so who's the senior colleague? Anyone?

And however senior he or she was, what did they think they were doing second-guessing the Gold Commander? Who was, in fact, in command - Dick, McDowell, or Mystery Cop? Further, Dick denied that an order to shoot was ever given; and it is far from clear whether she countermanded her own order on the information given by Mystery Cop, or whether Mystery Cop overruled her.

Moving swiftly on, the firearms squad ran into the tube train and shot the guy, and then one of their number stuck his carbine in the face of another cop, one of the detectives who had been following de Menezes. Yet a third man chased the train driver into the tunnel with a gun; running about in the dark on an active, unsecured railway line with the traction current switched on, with a loaded automatic weapon. It's a bloody miracle they didn't manage to kill anyone else, or for that matter each other. ("Shit! Gunmen! Gunmen dressed as fake policemen!")

But they had been tipped off by the detective who was later himself menaced; why did they think there were more suspects? Wouldn't the fact there was one suspect only have been quite important information? The limited and partial account of the briefing, given in court by McDowell, mentions that they were told that there was a suspect "who was up for it"; suspect, singular. And what information was this statement based on?

The Met doesn't seem to be at all interested in any of these questions; their legal defence strategy should be enough to make that clear. Ronald Thwaites QC was apparently instructed to contest absolutely everything, every damn one of the 19 failings the prosecution identified, and at the end even the impartiality of the judge. (Can we really have seen the spectacle of a lawyer for the police accusing a judge of being biased to the prosecution?) It's hard to understand the logic of this strategy; it seems to be pure bloodymindedness, given what was already known about the incident before the trial. And having failed to dispose of even one failing or the judge, Thwaites then resorted to a frankly repellent attempt to smear the dead.

Yes, it's the coke again; the coke that wasn't actually on him at all, but this didn't stop Thwaites from repeating the allegation. Is that legal? I suppose we should be thankful he didn't accuse him of being a paedophile. One thing that we have learned from this is that the leak campaign against de Menezes, and presumably the Forest Gate victims too, was a deliberate policy; otherwise why would exactly the same smears reappear in the mouth of the Met's lawyer?

The only reason I can see for this legal balls-to-the-wall strategy is that it would tend to detract from any examination of questions like, well, who the senior colleague is.

They've all got to go.


Anonymous said...

Me, I was all even-handed when the news of the shooring first came out. I was prepared to concede that the whole screw-up was the result of just one small error in a long and complex chain of events. I was for Blair's resignation, but because of his reaction to the cock-up, not the cock-up itself.

What I learned last month is that the Met operation was _far_ more bungled than I'd guessed. There wasn't a mistaken order to kill. There was no order to kill.

Oh, if only we'd given the Met and elected Watch Committee. You know, like what we used to have in (most) English cities.

Chris Williams

Tom said...

The oddest thing, even allowing for the rule that the Met are always bigger bastards than you think, is why they didn't just fess up to the elfnsafety charge and pay £100k or so, and promise to be good? Why take it to court? Was it a strategy to look like stern faced Defenders of Liberty Doing Their Duty, being menaced by PC Do Gooders? A martyrdom strategy, even? Expect the PR guff around 'This Will Make It More Difficult To Fight Terror' to morph into 'We Need Protection Against Frivolous Lawsuits' to 'We Need To Be Allowed To Shoot People In The Head For Their Own Good, No Questions Asked'.

I've come to the conclusion that politicians like Sir Ian because he's one of them.

Spot on with the waving around of guns piece, which is in some ways more serious (given that the actual execution appears to have been, er, executed rather well - it's the events surrounding it that are the scandal).

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