British newspaper concluded last week that "We
may never get to the bottom" of the killing
of Jean Charles de Menezes.
I don't know. I'd have thought we could already
make a fair fist at grasping the facts.
true we don't know exactly what was in the mind
of the cop who pumped seven bullets into the head
of the Brazilian electrician as he was held down
by the killer's accomplices in a tube train at Stockwell
on July 22. But we know what lies were told afterwards,
and the purpose of these lies.
it's there we'll find lessons for ourselves.
police chief Ian Blair insists that he spoke in
good faith when he claimed the dead man had been
"directly linked" to anti-terrorist operations:
this is what the police had genuinely believed at
so. The soldier attached to the Met. (that's interesting
in itself) who'd observed Jean leaving the building
where he lived had noted, "A U/I (unidentified)
male IC1 (white) 5ft. 8in. Dark hair beard/stubble."
the Met. already had CCTV footage of the suspect
they'd staked out and knew that this bore no resemblance.
For example, the suspect was black.
made much of a suggestion that Jean had been suspiciously
dressed for a warm summer's day and had been carrying
something that looked like a rucksack. Again, Blair
insists this was the Met's honest understanding
at the time. But the soldier on stake-out had noted
Jean wearing "blue denim jacket, blue jeans
and wearing trainers
not carrying anything."
pathologist's report, written five days after the
killing and in the presence of senior police officers,
noted that Jean "vaulted over the ticket barriers
(and) ran down the stairs of the tube station."
this sort of detail should have been included in
a pathologist's report, and how come the report
came to be written under the eyes of senior police
officers, remains unexplained.
more perplexing: by the time the report was written
the police knew that Jean had made his way through
the barrier using his travelcard, picked up a free
newspaper and then walked at normal speed down onto
circulating false stories on the day of the killing,
Blair found time to write to the permanent secretary
at the Home Office urging that no independent inquiry
be set up but the investigation be left to the police
took three days of argument before Blair gave way
and the Independent Police Complaints Commission
(IPCC) obtained access to Stockwell station.
then, no CCTV footage from July 22 was available.
The line of the Met. is that the tapes weren't retained
because they turned out to be blank. But underground
workers say this isn't plausible. One senior union
official said last week: "There was nothing
wrong with the cameras. The tapes are replaced every
night as a matter of course."
a joint statement on Friday, the lawyers for the
de Menezes family, Harriet Wistrich and Gareth Peirce,
described police claims to have based their statements
on their knowledge at the time as "inconceivable".
lawyerly understatement. The rest of us might prefer
"bare-faced lie", "cock-and-bull
story", "blatant propaganda," "cover-up"
or something such.
the five weeks since the killing, many commentators
here have made the sound point that we've been through
this sort of sordid episode before, more than once.
Few, however, have drawn what seems to me the obvious
conclusion: that policing problems here do not arise
solely or mainly from the particular conditions
of Northern Ireland but must be rooted in characteristics
of society shared with London.
the corruption which Frank McBrearty has shown goes
to the heart of the Gardai tell us that these characteristics
are shared also with the 26 Counties.
follows that no solution to policing problems here
can be found merely by reorganisation of local circumstances.
PSNI is already more accountable than the Met. Nuala
O'Loan wouldn't have had to wait three hours, much
less days, and wouldn't require any go-ahead from
the chief constable, before descending upon the
scene of a killing by the PSNI.
endless chatter in these parts about making the
PSNI more accountable and policing boards and partnerships
more representative is an exercise in avoiding the
is cops the whole world over. No number of Shinners
on the board or Provies in uniform will change that.