de Menezes: An absolute sham.
The decision is really nothing more than an appalling joke, played by the CPS to make it look as if it's serious about the public concern over what happened on July the 22nd. Ever since the beginning, the IPCC and CPS would have known full well that it would be impossible to prosecute the actual officer/s that shot de Menezes; when two other members of CO19 were suspended over the shooting dead of Harry Stanley, 20 of the 400-strong unit refused to carry weapons in protest, and 100 others temporarily withdrew. The charging of those who shot de Menezes would have resulted in exactly the same thing happening again, something which in the climate of fear following 7/7 would be unthinkable for the government to have to face. You can imagine the screams of the Sun, especially as we approach the silly season and with government ministers away on holiday, that they would be failing in their duty to "protect" the public.
In any case, the C019 officers could plead the defence that they were only following botched orders. The only person in the circumstances which the CPS could have charged without triggering a monumental backlash from the police, government and newspapers was Cressida Dick. She was in charge of the whole anti-terrorism operation which was taking place in the aftermath of the failed bombings of the previous day. According to the IPCC report which was leaked to the News of the World, Dick said that Menezes was to be "stopped" getting on a train. Another officer claimed that she had added "at all costs" to her sentence. The leaked report suggests that it may well have been this "loose language" that condemned Menezes to death. The CPS then would have had to consider Dick's testimony that she only meant for him to be apprehended. It seems that they therefore came to the conclusion that there was insufficent evidence that Dick could be found guilty of manslaughter, hence no prosecution.
The decision announced today by the CPS then helps absolutely no one. The prosecution on health and safety grounds means that the IPCC report will still not be released to the public until any trial is over, which could take years, while still angering the police themselves, whose message still appears to be that they did nothing wrong. There's been no further apology forthcoming to de Menezes's family. This is despite all the evidence which has leaked so far, which suggests multiple cock-ups, mistakes and errors. One source at the Met memorably told the Grauniad that it was a "complete and utter fuck-up", but even so, it had to be viewed in "the context of what police were facing on the day."
The context of what police were facing on the day was that they themselves were panicking, resulting in the police and special forces who were helping being badly prepared and organised. They also faced a media and government that were hollering for the failed bombers to be found, whatever the cost. After the shooting, the police allowed downright lies and smears to go uncorrected to the media about de Menezes, such as how he was wearing a heavy coat, how he jumped the barrier, how he was "acting suspiciously", how he overstayed his visa (which makes not one jot of difference in any case) and how he was accused of rape (allegations disproved with a lot less fanfare than the allegations were). All of this to distract from the fact that de Menezes should never have been killed, as he was, in the most barbaric fashion. He spent his last moments held face down to the seat where he had been sitting, unable to move even if he had got explosives strapped to his body. He was shot with dum dum bullets; designed to cause more damage, and not just once, but seven times, with 11 shots fired in total. He was never told to stop; he was grabbed and then pushed down on the seat after getting on the train and sitting down.
Despite all of the above, Ken Livingstone, determined to keep his pal Ian Blair in top seat of the Met at all costs, has criticised the decision even to prosecute on health and safety grounds.
"I doubt that al-Qaida will be considering the implications for health and safety legislation when they are planning their terrorist activities," he said.Entirely true, but that has nothing to do with the fact that the police should not be shooting dead innocent members of the public in the hysteria which follows such acts of terrorism, or in this case, a failed act of terrorism which is yet to be linked to everyone's favourite bogeyman, al-Qaida. The Met's own statement has made clear that they regard the policy which resulted in de Menezes's death as still "fit for purpose". They said:
"In the absence of a viable alternative, we will continue to use it where necessary to protect London and Londoners from any threat posed by suicide bombers."This is despite the Israelis, who the policy was copied off, making numerous criticisms of the way that Operation Kratos was managed. In other words, killing an innocent person under a scheme which was put into practice with no debate in parliament and with the public not being informed of its operation is preferable to the risk involved in coming up with a "viable alternative". Not shooting someone who's already being held under control might be considered a viable alternative by the general public, but seemingly not by our fearless boys in blue.
To conclude and summarise then, the Met and Ian Blair have got off (for now) entirely scot free. No officers charged, next to no chance of the prosecution on health and safety grounds being successful, the damning IPCC report still under wraps, possibly for years, Operation Kratos still the modus operandi against suicide bombers, and no one likely to face disciplinary action. The only losers in all of this are the public and the de Menezes family. To paraphrase a right wing idiot's catchphrase, you can make it up.