THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Meeting Vittoria's family
Congratulations, you own another bank

Jean-Charles; some hope at last?

Link: Jean Charles de Menezes shooting: Inquest begins - Telegraph.

According to the Telegraph today

The Metropolitan police's firearms and surveillance teams have hired separate lawyers and it is understood they may attack each other over aspects of the failed operation.

In criminal law circles (as these police officers will know) this is called "the stiletto defence." That's when two or more accused hire separate lawyers so they can try to blame the others for the crime. It almost always results in juries convicting all of them.

This is an inquest, not a criminal trial. The analogy is imperfect. But if the inquest finds that Jean-Charles was unlawfully killed one can hope that the Crown Prosecution Service might finally do its job. If not, we shall finally know that we ordinary citizens' lives are worth less in the eyes of the British law than those of the state's agents.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Tom Paine

Apology happily accepted. The officer's legal position is no different from anyone else's. The offences of murder and manslaughter do not have special defences for police officers. Mens rea (intent to kill or cause GBH) + actus reus (the act of killing) = murder unless one of the legal defences (provocation, self-defence, insanity) is available.

tired and emotional

Fair enough, I was having an off day. I apologise.

I am uncertain what legal position an armed officer is in when a fatal shooting occurs.

Tom Paine

What I want is for the killers (and those who ordered them to kill) to face a judge and jury as you or I would have to do. The British police was founded to do professionally what every citizen can (and sometimes should) do; ie uphold the law. This case shows how far we have strayed from that ideal and how wrong we have been to do so. As for my "pretensions", I do you the courtesy of assuming you to be sincere in your views. You might like to reciprocate.

tired and emotional

Inquests generally come before criminal prosecutions, rather than afterwards, as you note.

Furthermore you or I are not placed in the position of confronting suicide bombing suspect with a mandate to protect the public against them.

Yes, officers have a responsibility for their actions just as we do, they got it tragically wrong in this case. But they took a decision based on the information that they had at the time, and they did it to protect the public not to oppress them.

We do not yet know what the outcome regarding the poor sods who had to decide whether or not to pull the trigger will be. Ian Blair has gone though.

The men and women who work to protect us have a right to justice just as Menezes' did. Somehow I can't avoid the feeling that what you really want is a witchhunt, despite your liberal pretensions.

Someone has to guard the walls to provide the space for freedoms. Differentiating between conspiracy and cockup is one of the burdens of real life. Get used to it.


"The police believed that a man they suspected of being a suicide bomber was boarding a tube train at a busy London station.

If they had been correct and the man had realised the game was up and detonated his device, would you all now be blaming the agents of the state for inaction?"

Given what we now know about the bungled operation, lack of communication, lack of identification, lack of leadership and the admitted errors made (Cressida Dick issued instructions to stop him before he rached the Tube), then yes.

Yes, I certainly would.

Tom Paine

So you say. But how do you know? If that was MY defence or YOURS, we would face a jury. Why are these officers not doing so? Why is their identity concealed as yours or mine would not be? Since when were the State's agents above the law? I do not know you are wrong but you do not know you are right. A jury should decide. It is deeply suspicious that the law is being bent to avoid that. It is also dangerous. What if a senior officer involved had a personal reason to want Jean-Charles dead, for example? I do not suggest any did in this case, but "what if?" How easy your credulity would make such an abuse of power in future. How dangerous it makes all our lives. Justice should both be done and be seen to be done.

tired and emotional

Hang on, be fair. Menezes' death was a tragedy and it shouldn't have happened. But it was a case of mistaken identity. The police believed that a man they suspected of being a suicide bomber was boarding a tube train at a busy London station.

If they had been correct and the man had realised the game was up and detonated his device, would you all now be blaming the agents of the state for inaction?

What are the lives of the people in the tube carriage or standing on the platform worth? Given what they thought they knew how should the officers have handled it?

These guys made a terrible mistake with which they will have to live for the rest of their lives but they did it trying to protect the general public.

Please try and remember that.


They didn't do their job in the case of the Diana farces so why would they now?


I find it hard to see how it WASN'T an unlawful killing.

But that's just me.


I think we already know the answer to that question

The comments to this entry are closed.