UK Liberty

Health and Safety 22 – “I didn’t expect a suicide bomber to emerge”

Posted in de Menezes by ukliberty on October 23, 2007

The BBC yesterday:

The commander of the operation that led to Jean Charles de Menezes’ death said she did not think a stake-out of his flat would lead to a confrontation.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick said she wasn’t expecting a bomber with a sack “fizzing with explosives” to emerge from the south London block.

It was unlikely that anyone emerging from a block of flats would be the suspect (assuming he lived there, think at least one person per flat, nine flats, leads to a generous 1 in 9 chance of anyone emerging being the person they were after), and now she is saying they didn’t expect a bomber to emerge anyway.

She told the trial of the Metropolitan Police she had been in control and had not suffered from anxiety.

Prosecuting, Clare Montgomery QC asked Commander Dick about the operation outside flats linked to one of the 21 July suicide bombers, a building which Mr de Menezes also lived in.

The court had previously heard surveillance officers had surrounded the property on their own because specialist firearms officers were too far away.

Ms Montgomery asked Commander Dick to describe the “Plan B” in the event of armed teams not getting to the flats in time to stop a bomber.

“Someone could have come out of the address with a rucksack fizzing with explosives and get on a bus within two minutes,” said Ms Montgomery.

“But someone coming out of the flat with a rucksack fizzing with explosives was not a likely scenario,” said the police chief.

“It was extraordinarily remote, very remote. It was undoubtedly a possibility but we did not know what someone [a failed suicide bomber] would do.

“We did not know the strength of their link to the address. We did not know whether they intended to cause further explosions.

“My judgement was that it was not a likely scenario that one of these people would come out again, let alone intent on causing an explosion.” …

But later her judgement (despite the contrary opinion of the surveillance team following de Menezes) was that the suspect was Osman.

However, he was not a threat such that lethal force was necessary – because if he was, she would have ordered the firearms team to kill him, wouldn’t she?

So we still don’t know why the firearms team thought he was such a threat.

And today:

Ms Dick, now a Deputy Assistant Commissioner, told the court: “I have of course thought hundreds and hundreds of times what might have been different, what might have kept Mr de Menezes alive.

“In relation to my own decisions, given what I now know and what I was told at the time, I wouldn’t change those decisions.”

Trial adjourned until Thursday.


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