The officer in charge of Scotland Yard operations on the day Jean Charles de Menezes was shot has denied claims the control room was “noisy and chaotic”.
Deputy assistant commissioner Cressida Dick was responding at the Old Bailey to claims that officers had to shout to make themselves heard in room 1600.
Deputy assistant commissioner Dick, speaking in court on the first day of the Met’s defence case, said: “I would not describe it ever as noisy.
“The early part of the day, it was really very calm and quiet.”
She said that later there were people in the room who were not “absolutely required”.
She said this had made the room hotter and “more difficult for people to move around”, and so she had asked them to leave.
But this was after the shooting of Mr de Menezes, she added.
This is one of the prosecution’s allegations, that the control room was so noisy that it contributed to the shooting.
But on the 15th we heard from Pat:
A second surveillance officer, identified as “Pat”, told jurors how it had been difficult to communicate over the racket in the control room.
“People were shouting to make themselves heard,” he said. “I had difficulty getting people’s attention because I couldn’t leave my seat.” (the Telegraph)
It would be nice if the media reported the timings (as I’m sure the timings must have been presented in court).
A detective leading a covert police operation following Jean Charles de Menezes asked control room bosses at least three times if he should detain him before he entered Stockwell Tube station, the Old Bailey heard today.
The officer, known as “James”, said he became “tetchy” after controllers told him to wait even though the 27-year-old Brazilian electrician – who police believed was 21/7 bomber Hussain Osman – was seconds from the radio dead zone of the Underground.
James, who contacted the control room while Mr de Menezes was still on a bus from Brixton to Stockwell, said: “I came on the radio and asked them a question: ‘Do you want me to detain the subject before he goes down to the Tube?’ My instructions were to wait. I told them we had got to make a decision and we have probably about 20 seconds. I said again: ‘Do you want this man detained?’
“I said ‘If you don’t give me any answer he is going to be down in the Tube and we will lose radio contact.’ I don’t know how many times I asked that question, it was at least three times.
“I just got, wait, wait, wait. I started to get tetchy and put down the telephone.”
James told the court how he had ordered his team to follow the Brazilian into the station but was alarmed to hear a firearms unit had also arrived.
The unit had not been at an earlier briefing and did not know the identities of the covert officers, jurors heard.
James said: “My concerns was that officer ‘Ivor’ was dressed identically to Mr de Menezes. He had a denim jeans and a denim jacket [and a rucksack - ed] and someone coming onto the plot might be confused.” He was worried a police officer might accidentally shoot a colleague: “I have got five surveillance officers down there who are all armed. They are in control of the subject and if the subject does something they can deal with it.
“If you have a firearms team running into that, that is going to compromise the surveillance and the sight of armed police running towards a subject is going to cause an issue… If you have got officers waving guns at each other, then clearly it’s not a very good place to be.”
The detective said he had become “frustrated” earlier in the day when, during a briefing in the control room, Detective Inspector Andrew Whiddett ordered his surveillance team to “contain” suspects.
When officer ‘”Harry” asked Mr Whiddett to explain “contain”, the officer allegedly shrugged his shoulders and refused to elaborate.
Surely that’s simply ****ing unacceptable.
You simply must not tell someone to do something, especially in a life or death situation, without explaining what it means!
James said he had decided to intervene if a suspect had been positively identified as a suicide bomber as “the threat of letting him run and the risk to life would be too great”.
Mr de Menezes was shot dead on a train at Stockwell on 22 July 2005. The Met is on trial under health and safety laws for failing to protect the public. It denies the charge.
What relevance is this?
Earlier, Mr Thwaites cross-examined immigration official Paul Roach over a counterfeit stamp found in the Brazilian’s passport, asking if this meant he had been in the country illegally.
Mr Roach told the court Mr de Menezes first entered the country on 13 March 2002 and was given six months’ leave to remain, before extending his stay, as a student, to 30 June 2003.
The next record was of him arriving in Ireland from France on 23 April 2005 but there was no notification of when he returned to the UK.
The court heard how as a person entering Britain from Ireland, he would have had an automatic three-month leave to remain which at the earliest would have run out on 23 July, the day after he was killed.
A counterfeit stamp found on his passport may only have been added after he entered the UK, Mr Roach said. (the BBC)
It is a shame we don’t get to see the full transcript of the day, because I really want to understand the relevance of this to the case for the defence.
Are they suggesting that de Menezes was behaving suspiciously because he was here illegally (and had recently consumed cocaine), and this compounded the idea that he was a lethal threat in the minds of the firearms officers?
Or is it just implicit – the jury draws its own, hopefully unfavourable conclusions.
Because as far as I can tell from the media reports, no-one has said they thought he was behaving suspiciously except for when he got off and on the same bus. [ah, see update section below]
But, assuming that he even did behave in a manner that looked suspicious, what difference does it make, knowing that he was “negatively identified within minutes“?
In other words, they followed this man, knowing he wasn’t Osman, the wannabe suicide bomber from the previous day, the man they were after, Gold Command knew he wasn’t Osman, but somehow he became a lethal threat regardless.
And that’s what this trial is about – the alleged failures in the Met’s responsibility toward de Menezes (and by extension the rest of us).
Earlier, the judge challenged him over his line of questioning on Mr de Menezes’s immigration status.
The barrister cross- examined immigration official Paul Roach over a counterfeit stamp found in the Brazilian’s passport, asking if that meant he was in the country illegally.
But the judge later told the QC: “He is a member of the public who is entitled to the protection of the Health and Safety at Work Act whatever his status, is he not?”
Mr Thwaites said: “I don’t think that is relevant.”
The judge said: “I wondered what the inquiry was about”, to which the police force’s barrister replied: “I’ll make it clear in due course.”
The officers described de Menezes’ behaviour earlier:
The court had previously been told that officers following Mr de Menezes described his behaviour as “nervous and twitchy”, which contributed to his mis-identification as a possible suicide bomber. (The Telegraph)
Was he nervous and twitchy because he thought he was being followed?
Did he become a lethal threat because of the firearms briefing and failure in communications?
After the 7.45am briefing at Leman Street police station near Aldgate, east London, the [firearms] team drove to a base about two miles from Scotia Road. There they were briefed by the “Silver Commander” between 8.45am and 9.15am — just 18 minutes before Mr de Menezes left his flat.
Miss Montgomery [for the prosecution] said: “The individuals were described to the firearms team as being ‘deadly’ and ‘up for it’. They were also told that explosives could easily be concealed about the body and detonated.”
The court heard the briefing was “wrong in crucial details” because the officers were wrongly told that people had been stopped leaving the flat and eliminated from inquiries. Within minutes of the briefing, the team were told the possible suspect was on a bus towards Stockwell.
But CCTV shows they only began driving there after Mr de Menezes got off the bus, the court heard. During this time, Ralph [firearms team leader] said he received radio confirmation that Mr de Menezes was definitely “our man”.
Ralph then got a message saying the suspect had to be stopped from entering the station.
“Ralph understood from this that they were required to intercept Jean Charles and detain him if possible,” said Miss Montgomery.
She said that by letting a man thought to be a suicide bomber get on the bus and head to the tube station, “the police were creating a situation where there was a real probability that in order to stop him safely they were going to have to shoot him”. (The Telegraph)