Thursday, September 06, 2007

For Jean Charles de Menenez RIP

The second IPCC report into the Stockwell Tube shooting of Jean Charles de Menenez is available online here

Unlike the 'Stockwell 1' report on the circumstances surrounding the shooting itself, this report has been made public - though to what purpose, considering the relative trivialities of its content, is unclear - unless to further divert attention from the substantive issues surrounding the public execution of an innocent man. The report deals only with the handling of public statements by the police in the aftermath of the shooting. It makes mild criticism of one senior officer but finds no other substantive fault.

So where does that leave us? The officer in overall control of operations that day has been promoted to Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Met Police. The firearms officers themselves are back on firearms duty. No individual police officer has been, or is to be prosecuted for any offence. The Met is to be prosecuted under Health and Safety at Work legislation - honestly - HEALTH & SAFETY AT WORK - you just couldn't make it up could you?.

And we, the poor fearful sheeple, are expected to be grateful and accept that it was all just a ghastly accident - brave executioners under dreadful pressure, poor dears - and nobody is to blame for anything.

Phew! so that's alright then.

Two points:

1. The police know, with cast-iron certainty, that they will always be given the benefit of any doubt in pretty well any circumstances. That knowledge affects their behaviour. If somebody KNOWS they can get away with murder, we should not be too surprised when, under this or that pressure, they commit murder - and so it has proved. It's called moral hazard and it applies to the police in spades. They had constructed a narrative for themselves that day. It had them expecting to confront a dangerous armed terrorist intent on exploding a bomb in public. Their blood was up. They were hot on the heels of a serious baddie; they were going to nail him - and it destroyed their judgment. Neither report appears to have anything useful to say on that simple over-riding fact - although we'll have to wait for an indeterminate length of time to see the contents of Stockwell 1 - if it is ever made public.

2. The officers who carried out the execution were back on firearms duty a few months later. How can anyone who knows he has executed an innocent man be unaffected by it, to the extent of returning to similar duty in the knowledge that he may be called upon to do the same again - unless he is an automaton (a pseudonym for 'highly professional' these days one presumes) or maybe gets a kick out of killing people in cold blood knowing he will be neither publicly indentified nor held to serious account.

Update 1.
A report on the grilling of the Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair arising from the Stockwell 1 Report here.

Barrister Peter Herbert called on Sir Ian to resign, a demand the commissioner resisted: "I'm not going to resign over this issue. I hope the people of London will make a judgment on my commissionership on the whole of my stewardship."

Sir Ian said he wished he had known earlier that the wrong man had been shot. The questioning led him to admit: "We got it appallingly wrong, but we are not guilty of complete idiocy. My feeling is if this happened again the information would flow very differently."

Says it all really.

'Information flow' ?? - 'we'll get that right next time around - promise' - (and of course there will be a next time.)

Executing an innocent man?? 'oops, sorry. These things happen you know - but he was just a foreigner with an out-of-date visa, so it could have been worse'

God they make me sick.


  1. Are you back blogging then?

  2. When the muse strikes. That's all. I've been considering imposing a posting rate discipline but not there yet.

  3. Anonymous7:31 am

    I'm resigned to the "fact" that if you put gun-men on the street, even quite well trained ones, they will kill people. In this case there were some right idiots in the chain, but I have no reason to think they were reckless either.