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What has the Met learned from Menezes death?

Link: Terrorism: Met 'has not learned' from Menezes death | UK news | The Guardian.

JeanNext week is the third anniversary of the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes. Some will object to my choice of the word "murder." In England, a killing is murder if two elements are present and there is no valid defence. The first element - the actus reus - the act that led to the death is clearly present. The second element - the mens rea - is intent. If the killer intended either to kill or to cause Jean Charles grievous bodily harm, then unless there was a valid defence, it was murder. No-one who blows off another man's head with seven dum dum bullets is really in a position to deny his lethal intent.

A defence of provocation would require Jean Charles to have done something to provoke his killer into losing control of himself. He had no time to do so.  He was killed immediately by a total stranger.

I don't imagine the killer would have pleaded diminished responsibility on the basis that the balance of his mind was disturbed when the act was committed. In the heated atmosphere of the time, no doubt his blood was up. We could speculate endlessly as to the state of mind of someone who can kill a helpless fellow-human being under restraint. But we may be confident that this would not be the killer's defence.

The only "runner" here is self-defence. Had I had killed Jean-Charles because I mistakenly believed he was a suicide bomber about to detonate, that would be my defence. I think it would be a good one, though I would expect to be severely tested under cross-examination as to the truth of my mistake and the basis for it.

Had I been the killer however, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service would quite properly have said that it was for a jury to decide if my defence was valid. Had they said that to the killer in this case, the jury would probably have acquitted. That is not what happened. One agency of the state (the Crown Prosecution Service) shielded another (the Metropolitan Police) and justice has neither been done, nor seen to be done. There is now clearly one rule in Britain for ordinary citizens and quite another for the state's employees. That, with all due respect to his grieving family, is the true significance of Jean-Charles' death.

If brought to trial, the gunman would have had some difficulties with evidence. Another officer had already restrained Jean-Charles. The killer would have had to convince a jury he had no time to register that Jean-Charles was lightly dressed with no place to conceal a bomb belt. But in the fevered atmosphere of the time, and given the false information incompetently communicated by the killer's colleagues, I still think a jury would have acquitted.

So why do I now say it was murder? If the case were brought now, years late, the circumstances would be very different. The killer's attempts to evade justice would forfeit the jury's sympathy. Jury members would consider more closely the possibility that - as he pulled the trigger seven times to blow off the head of an innocent man - he knew that he was no threat. They would listen more carefully to the evidence of the officer who was holding Jean-Charles down and according to his evidence at the farcical "health & safety" trial, perceived no further threat. They would consider more seriously the possibility that, in a heightened state of excitement, having geared himself up to kill and knowing he could do so without consequences, the killer simply refused to be denied his prey.

Why would he pull (and pull and pull) the trigger if he knew at that moment that Jean-Charles was innocent? Humans are violent. Men particularly so. When there is war or other justification to break the 6th Commandment there is never a shortage of volunteers. There is a dark reason why "The Godfather" is the most loved film of all time and why men test their new televisions with the opening sequence of "Gladiator." In our animal nature we are killers, and that is why throughout the history of civilisation, killing has been surrounded with laws and taboos. It had to be.

PinnochioWe are told its own report concludes the Met "has not learned" from this incident. I disagree. The Met's officers have learned that they are above the law. They have learned that the state will back them, conceal their identity, reward them with holidays at the taxpayers expense and generally treat them as "one of its own" if they kill those merely suspected to be its enemies. They have learned that all this applies however reckless or incompetent they may be and that they can defame their victims shamelessly without any consequences. They have learned dark and terrible lessons.

I remain convinced that the death of Jean-Charles de Menezes is the most significant event of my life to date; though I have lived through some of the most eventful times in human history. 9/11 changed nothing.  Neither did 7/7. They told us what we already knew - that there are barbarians in the world and that as George Orwell put it;

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

Jean-Charles' death however did change something. The day he died, my England - the England of fair trials, of justice being seen to be done - died with him. That is why, if I were in London next week rather than Moscow, I would attend one of the events recommended by Rachel (the living proof that politicians lie when they claim the victims of terrorism despise those who believe in "old-fashioned" notions of liberty and justice). Full details are to be found at (from where I took the images in this post).

If you have in you the spirit of the England that once was, please be there for me and for the others who can't make it. Above all be there for an innocent young man who was killed in your name.


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Welshcakes Limoncello

I agree with all that you say here, TP. A fine post, written with due sensitivity for the victim's family.


'It was a turning point because, in a situation in which you or I would ***definitely*** have had to face trial, the authorities failed to press charges against one of their own.'

I am sure you are correct in saying that if you or I had carried out the same action a trial would have resulted. Then again, neither you nor I are armed policemen, so if either of carried out this action we would have a difficult case to make :)
You state that this case represents a turning point and explain the lack of a trial as being due to 'the murderer' being one of the authorities' own. If there are other recent examples of the authorities' own (i.e. local or national government employees) not facing the same legal consequences as any other non-authorities' own citizen, then you are wrong, unless turning points are quite common.

Tom Paine

Cookie, it wasn't a turning point because a policeman made a mistake. They always have made them, just like everyone else. It was a turning point because, in a situation in which you or I would ***definitely*** have had to face trial, the authorities failed to press charges against one of their own. That is how a police state begins, with the confidence of the police that they are above the law.


In an atmosphere of fear regarding the possibility of terrorist attacks and the irrationalities and mistakes that such an atmosphere can lead to amongst all people (even the Police, of which I am no great defender), I think you are being rather unjust in describing this incident as a turning point in British history. You may (or may not) be correct in describing him as a murderer and ascribing his motive as an animalistic urge to kill, but your view rests entirely on pre-judging his state of mind.


Agreed but could provocation be used as a defence as well:
wouldn't it be a good idea to charge the killers of Mark Saunders as well?
I wish his family good luck in their attempt to seek a judicial review against the IPCC

Agreed in every respect.

However, one point you didn't mention was the unfortunate choice of legal and political representation by the Menezes family. Of course, it may be that they had no "establishment" alternative but, for instance, the involvement of people like Asad Rehman has clearly polluted the sparkling clarity of the family's case. When I first saw the usual suspects from the SWP, the NMP and their assorted bag carriers in "get the fascist hyenas" mode, I went to my default position that if this lot were in support of Justice4Jean then the whole campaign must be a crock: and I don't think I was alone.

I can understand that when you're trying to move a mountain (and getting the alleged murderers into court would be a substantial shift of rocks and mud) you need all the help you can get - and the devotion of the helpers from the authoritarian Left is not to be sniffed at. I wonder though if the culprits - and those who protect them - have been lucky in their opponents. I really don't know. It seems to me though that may people who would be on the J4J bandwagon remain bystanders because of the nature of the bandwagon's drivers.

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