James Hammerton has an article on The Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill.
The police commander in charge of officers who killed Jean Charles de Menezes did not give an order to shoot him, she has told the Old Bailey.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick said she told armed officers to “stop” Mr de Menezes, 27, anticipating a “conventional armed challenge”.
This, of course, after testimony from Ralph, the leader of the firearms team about the briefing, earlier this week:
Ralph, the leader of the “black team” of firearms officers, said they were given the impression they were dealing with a “deadly and determined suicidal bomber”, the court heard.
Miss Montgomery 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 said he received radio confirmation that Mr de Menezes was definitely “our man”. (The Telegraph)
What were Ralph and his colleagues supposed to do on encountering this deadly threat?
Because it would be suicidal to challenge a suicide bomber, wouldn’t it?
(Which, by the way, I have no problem with at all – provided you honestly believe he is a suicide bomber, and if you are told by people you trust that this man is a suicide bomber, surely you are going to believe them).
Back to the BBC:
When asked if she had given “any instruction that he would be shot”, DAC Dick said she had not.
And, when asked if she had given a shoot-to-kill codeword, she also replied that she had not.
Other officers in the control room had also used the word “stop”, she said.
“That is a word in normal use in the police world to mean challenge or detain”, she added.
Which would make sense, unless of course your firearms team was previously told to go out and tackle a “deadly and determined suicidal bomber”, who was “up for it”, someone who was definitely “our man”, who might be hiding easily concealable military-grade explosives about his person. The man from the previous day, in fact – a wannabe suicide bomber.
DAC Dick told the Old Bailey that Mr de Menezes had been the victim of “the most extraordinary and terrible circumstances”.
Indeed, and circumstances that look increasingly like a farce.
“The death of Mr de Menezes is a terrible tragedy and one that I think the whole of the Metropolitan Police regret.”
She added: “We had had the events of July 7 and July 21. He had the misfortune to live in the same block.
“He also looked extraordinarily like that person who lived in the same block.
Note that she wasn’t at the scene. She may have been told this, but see below for conflicting testimony.
“Through his behaviour that day, as I understand it, that behaviour when challenged, he came to be shot.
Hang on – what challenge?
Given this IPCC statement nearer the time:
“The IPCC investigation team understands that Mr de Menezes did not refuse to obey a challenge prior to being shot and was not wearing any clothing that could be classed as suspicious. Whether Mr de Menezes was challenged is disputed and forms part of the Stockwell 1 investigation. However, there is no suggestion that the challenge is one that an innocent man would have understood or that Mr de Menezes was given instructions that he could have chosen to obey.” (the Telegraph)
Back to the BBC:
“It is a terrible tragedy.”
The court heard on Thursday that officers on the ground had described Mr de Menezes as “very jumpy and agitated” and said he had been “on the phone and sending text messages”.
Incredibly suspicious behaviour, wouldn’t you agree?
Also on Thursday, the court heard that DAC Dick had been told five times by officers that Mr de Menezes was Osman.
She said she had been told three times by a surveillance officer on the scene, codenamed Pat, and twice by her “silver” commander that the man officers had been following was Osman.
This conflicts with testimony from surveillance officer Owen earlier this week:
Details of the identification came from a surveillance co-ordinator giving evidence during the health and safety trial against the Metropolitan Police.
The officer, known only as “Owen”, told the court: “There was a point when the senior management group knew that it wasn’t Nettletip (Osman’s codename). I believe that came across on the radio.
“I can’t say what the exact words were but there was a discussion about the situation on the bus and they wanted SO13 anti-terror police to stop the subject and establish intelligence about the residents and flats at Scotia Road.
“If he lived next to the subject he may have been able to tell us things of relevance. It later emerged that they (surveillance) had continued and Cressida Dick asked why the unidentified individual was still being followed if it was not Nettletip.”
Clare Montgomery, QC, prosecuting, asked: “Was he identified as positively not Nettletip?”
Owen replied: “Yes, the direction was for the surveillance teams to stop and for the anti-terror officers to gather the intelligence about the block of flats.
“After three or four minutes Cressida Dick and I were aware that the surveillance team had not pulled back and they were still following the male. Her belief was it definitely wasn’t the suspect.”
Owen said that at no time during the operation was Mr de Menezes, who came to Britain in 2002, “positively identified” as Osman. (Telegraph)
The case continues.
More at the Telegraph.
Cressida Dick said:
“We learn as the world changes and our operations develop but allowing properly trained people to balance the risks and make judgements seems to me to be absolutely fundamental.”
Absolutely right but we have to avoid putting ourselves in positions where it seems essential to kill someone who isn’t in fact a threat.
And if you do end up killing someone, you must not mislead the public, or delay a statutory independent inquiry.
Thinking about it, I still don’t understand why they didn’t shoot Ivor, the surveillance officer with identical clothing and a rucksack.
The officer in charge of police who shot innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes has explained why she told firearms officers to stop him.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick said she was told five times the man police were following was attempted suicide bomber Hussain Osman.
She told the Old Bailey she believed he had to be stopped from going into the Underground to protect the public.
Trial judge Mr Justice Henriques asked her: “It was not 100% positive identification?”
She replied: “I believed that they believed it was him, but also that they could be wrong.”
Asked what she was thinking at the time, she said: “I did not have any intelligence telling me that he was not carrying a bomb and I believed that he was the person from the day before.”
Given that he may have been carrying easily concealable explosives sheet explosives of a military kind, how could you have intelligence that he wasn’t carrying a bomb?!
Given that he was not a suicide bomber, how could you have intelligence that he wasn’t carrying a bomb?!
Asked if she thought her handling of the situation was proportionate, she said: “I do.”
She was giving evidence at the trial of the Metropolitan Police, which is accused of a “catastrophic” series of failures leading up to the death of Mr de Menezes, who was shot dead at Stockwell Tube station.
Ms Dick said she asked members of her team for a percentage of how certain they were that the man they were following was “Nettletip”, codename for Osman, but was never given an answer.
Earlier in the trial we heard that “One spotter told commanders it was “ridiculous” to ask him for a “percentage certainty” that the target was Osman.” (BBC).
But she said she was also told three times by her Scotland Yard surveillance monitor, codenamed Pat, and twice by her “silver” commander that it was.
Note that both of these people were in the same room as her – that is, they weren’t present at the scene (see the Update section below). People at the scene were telling the operations room that the suspect wasn’t Osman.
Ms Dick told the jury that in a “fast moving situation” there were no “golden rules” on the level of identification needed and that various factors fed her decision that day.
The trial was adjourned until Friday.
Ms Dick told the jury that in a “fast-moving situation” there were no “golden rules” on the level of identification needed and that various factors fed her decision that day. She told how the actions of Mr de Menezes, coupled with the events of the 21 July attempted bombings the day before, had led her to think he must be stopped.
“Firstly, I believe that the surveillance team believed it was him. Secondly, from the behaviours that had been described to me, given that I thought they thought it was him – it could, very, very well be him.
“The behaviours that were described – the nervousness, agitation, the sending of messages, the telephone, getting on and off the bus, added to the picture of someone potentially intent on causing an explosion.
For the moment let’s put to one side the “nervousness” and “agitation”, because we do not know what caused this – he was late for work, but perhaps he thought he was being followed (oh the irony).
I think it would be a struggle to find a bus that didn’t have at least one passenger using the telephone (to say he was late for work, for example), sending messages, and getting off and on the same bus if their Tube station was closed!
“Then, of course, added to that, this person was coming off a bus to enter the same Tube station that the bomber I had seen on the video had entered the day before,” she said.
“That all added up – I cannot be certain – to someone who posed potentially a very high risk to the public.
“The threat we were dealing with at that time was to the public transport system and to the Tube. We had two incidents, 7 July and 21 July.”
She felt that the danger of allowing a potential bomber on to the Tube combined with the risk of losing surveillance in the Underground meant the man had to be stopped even though SO19 specialist firearms teams had not yet arrived.
I think the BBC article is wrong in terms of whether Pat was at the scene or in the operations room:
DAC Dick told the court she had been told three times by a surveillance officer on the scene, codenamed Pat, and twice by her “silver” commander that the man officers had been following was Osman.
Because of a bit of testimony reported in the Telegraph:
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.”
Good on the BBC – I wrote to them explaining the bit above about ‘Pat’, and they changed the article.