THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain

Posts categorized "Jean-Charles de Menezes" Feed

Cressida Dick

The closest I came to despair during the long dark political night I hope is now ending was during the affair of Jean Charles de Menezes. It wasn't so bad that panicked policemen made a tragic error in the wake of the 7/7 bombings. That was both understandable and forgivable. Had I been a juror in a murder trial of the officers who blew that poor young innocent's head from his shoulders with soft nosed bullets proscribed by the laws of war, I would have voted to acquit.

I am sure they did not kill him for the hell of it. They believed (or believed their commander believed) that he posed a genuine threat to them and the Londoners around him. Their legal defence would have been self defence under a misapprehension and I would have believed it. They were negligent at worst. They were negligently led. The family of the young Brazilian should have had civil compensation, the Metropolitan Police should have apologised for a tragic error and the officers concerned should have been disciplined and retrained. 

My despair was rather driven by the Establishment's response to the incident. It closed ranks on the rest of us and on Justice herself. It lied. It destroyed evidence. It committed crimes. Had you or I killed Jean Charles under the mistaken apprehension that he was a suicide bomber we would have faced trial. His killers were state agents and didn't; making a mockery of equality before the law. They were sent away on holiday at taxpayers expense as a reward. Their identities are still unknown. The government drummed up a stupid "health and safety" case to make the matter sub judice and give ministers an excuse not to comment until the fuss had died down. That was the nadir of Alistair Campbell-style political cynicism — manipulating the law, the press, and the public's limited attention span to mask a terrible injustice and an embarrassing failure of state power.

Justice was not done and was seen NOT to be done. An innocent died with consequences neither to his immediate killers nor to those, police and politicians, who issued the fatal orders. That Labour Government proved once and for all that the Labour Party is nothing more than the political wing of the public sector unions. The rest of us are of little concern — even if we lose our lives — compared to the privileged brothers and sisters under the leftist state's partisan protection. Even Jean Charles's usually-privileged ethnicity didn't count when the state's loyal servants needed protection. I wish I could believe it was different under a "Conservative" government but the sneer quotes say all you need to know of my view on that  

This is why I am so saddened to learn that the commander of the unit responsible for this tragedy now heads the Metropolitan Police. She commands the force I rely on to keep me safe in my home town. Her loyalty to the political élites (not to her officers, by the way, as she was cynical in shifting blame down the chain of command) trumps the safety of the public her force exists to serve and protect. Neither ordinary Londoners nor the officers under her politically-correct command should feel safe this morning .

She's the Metropolitan Police Commissioner not on her merits as a police officer but because she fits a Politically-Correct narrative. I would love to celebrate the appointment of the first woman to command this important force - the mother force of world policing. I can't because (for reasons unrelated to her sex) she is unworthy of the rôle. I shall sleep less easy in my bed in London tonight. 

The Dishonoured List

No place for MPs and bankers in unflashy New Year honours list | UK news | The Guardian.

Dick I have long believed that the system of "honours" is at the heart of British Establishment corruption. Of course, there is nothing intrinsically wrong about honouring lifetime achievement or social contribution. There is, however, something very wrong about politicians making the selection.

It is a minor piece of corruption for politicians to "honour" the nation's favourite footballers or pop stars. Like ugly, uncool Prime Ministers inviting beautiful people to Downing Street, they do it to win votes by associating themselves with popularity. That's what leads to such nonsense as rockers with more letters after their name than chords in their repertoire.

But that is the least of it. There are the party apparatchiks who work loyally in the hope of a chance, one day, to lord it (perhaps even literally) over friends and neighbours. There are the newspaper editors who know that to allow their journalists to speak truth to power will jeopardise the knighthood that otherwise comes up with the rations. Even if they don't care for such trifles themselves, they will have a disappointed family to contend with. Perhaps a wife who loses the right to be "Lady X." Or a mother who misses a Buckingham Palace investiture. Such subtle pressures are enough to keep many in line.

Of course, this is all rather English and understated. Rarely does the system shows its fangs. This year's New Year's Honours list, however, features a major, yellow-toothed, foul-breathed snarl;

...the Queen's Police Medal goes to assistant commissioner Cressida Dick, who runs Scotland Yard's specialist crime wing, but was in charge of the operation that led to the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell tube station in 2005.

Yes, the jury in the "health and safety" show trial - used by the state to put the matter on hold until it was "old news" - specifically exonerated Ms Dick. Perhaps the lethal errors were all made after she - as Gold Commander - transferred control to CO19. Certainly there is no proof she was involved in discrediting an innocent victim in the disgraceful campaign of lies and spin which followed Jean-Charles's murder.  Perhaps history will even remember her for her role as head of the Metropolitan Police's "Diversity Directorate" more than for that day of national disgrace. Perhaps.

The question still remains. In honouring a woman whose name is tied to that monstrous injustice, what message, dear reader, does our Prime Minister intend to convey?

A deliberate provocation?

Menezes police officer gets top IPCC role | Politics | The Guardian.

The director of investigations of the IPCC, the "independent"  body which investigates complaints against the police, is to be a man it criticised in its report on the de Menezes affair. Our leaders were not content with sending the blundering killers on a taxpayer-funded holiday as a reward; it was not even enough to promote the commander in charge on that disastrous day. All concerned, it seems, must have prizes. Except of course for the dead man and his grieving family.

Our leaders are never going to let us forget how little claim we have to the loyalty of "public" servants, are they? Kill an innocent member of the public, trash the CCTV tapes, perjure yourselves about shouted warnings and smear the dead man's name? Not a problem. Every member of the team is rewarded for loyalty to the state. It is hard to believe that this appointment is not a deliberate provocation; a message to all that to cross the British state and its agents is always to come off worse; whatever the justice of the matter. It is one more reason (if more were needed) not to cooperate with New Labour's politicised police "service".

The man himself smugly said;

"I'm delighted to be joining the IPCC which has a vital role in building public confidence in policing. I am confident I can contribute to that aim."

He must be using, Humpty-Dumpty like, his own definitions of "confidence" and "confident." Right now, I am only confident that we are led by amoral men and women without a glimmer of conscience. New Labour and its apparatchiks can't go soon enough for me; those in the police not least.

The worst "reform" of modern times?

I was brought to blogging by a shocking piece of Labour legislation, but I am coming around to the view that the worst legal "reform" of my life was carried out under a Conservative government. In 1986, the Crown Prosecution Service opened for business. Before then, the police officers who investigated cases prosecuted them (or employed lawyers to do it for them). This was thought somehow to be a conflict of interest, but in an adversarial system, conflict is part of the process. It made a lot of sense for the accuser to face the accused, with an independent judge deciding between them. However, in the 1980's this was thought insufficiently "modern" and the CPS was formed

At the time, reflecting on what kind of fellow-lawyers might opt for a career with the CPS, I simply thought it was a shame that the best legal talent would no longer be available to the police. I was not wrong. When my wife served on a jury, she noticed that - though the cheap local defence barrister was hopeless - the Crown Prosecutor was worse. Like many others at the time, however, I entirely missed the truly important point. I would like to think the government of the day did too.

Under the current administration, there have been numerous incidents that should have led to prosecutions, but didn't. Does anyone doubt that Yates of the Yard would have prosecuted Lord Levy and Tony Blair in the affair of cash for peerages, for example? Would there have been prosecutions for the undoubted frauds perpetrated by numerous Members of Parliament in relation to their parliamentary expense claims? It is hard to avoid the suspicion that the CPS takes orders from its political masters; the Director of Public Prosecutions (currently Kier Starmer QC) reporting to the Attorney General (currently the Baroness Scotland).

Nor did the CPS acquit itself with honour in the case of Jean Charles de Menezes. Had you or I killed him on that tube train in the mistaken belief that he might otherwise detonate a "suicide bomb", we would have faced a jury. If the jury believed our explanation, we would have been acquitted. There is no question, however, that the police or the CPS would just say "fair enough" to our story themselves. Particularly if the CCTV records of the incident had mysteriously disappeared, apparently because you or I had removed and "lost" them. Particularly if we had lied about the incident and defamed the dead man in the days following. However, that wasn't how it worked for the officers of the Metropolitan Police who killed Jean Charles or their bosses who ordered them to do it. In consequence, the bereaved family feels cheated and the thinking fraction of the population feels suspicious that something was covered up.

It is hard to avoid the suspicion that senior police officers, the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister did not want the legality of the "Kratos" shoot-to-kill orders issued in the wake of 7/7 tested in court. I believe the then Prime Minister, Home Secretary and Metropolitan Police Commissioner have cases to answer for Jean Charles' death because they gave illegal orders to kill. With the CPS under political direction, those cases will never come to trial, unless the family brings (as I believe it should) a private prosecution. Of course, the previous system would have been only a little better. With the Met's own officers involved, an inspector from another police force would have investigated the matter and it would have been his decision whether or not to prosecute. Whether he would have acted with integrity or covered up for his colleagues would at least have been out of political control.

I think the CPS was created out of a sincere desire to professionalise the administration of justice. In yet another example of the law of unintended consequences, however, it has made justice - whenever the men of power are involved - far less likely. As we must fear the men of power more, it has made us less free.

When is a cover up not a cover up?

De Menezes inquest: officer cleared of staging cover up - Telegraph.

The defining story of the history of New Labour is not the expenses scandal. That has more to do with the impotence of parliament, which New Labour has ruthlessly exploited but did not create. The Devil found work for half of those idle hands (all praise to the half who resisted his wiles).

No, the defining story is that of the death of Jean Charles de Menezes.

Deliberately destroying evidence when on notice that court proceedings are contemplated is, at best,  contempt of court. Fabricating or destroying evidence is one of the actions which may amount to the crime of perverting the course of justice. Anyone involved in killing a man should expect court proceedings, however confidently he may expect to be acquitted. Indeed, a man confident of his innocence might be expected to worry that destroying evidence suggests guilt.

The only criminal trial in the case of Jean Charles has been the ludicrous "health and safety" case against the Met, which I suspect was initiated to allow politicians to remain silent, arguing that the matter was sub judice, for just long enough to pass the limited attention span of journalists and public. Even in contemplation of that trivial case, or an inquest (and there had to be an inquest) however, anyone (let alone a trained policeman) should have known better than to destroy evidence.

But then a Prime Minister should have known better than to shred evidence that a court had ordered to be disclosed too, don't you think? Yet the authorities seem to have no particular action in mind there either. Perhaps he, like "Owen", was "naive?" Had you or I done it, we would have had to defend our behaviour in court. Not Blair. Not "Owen."

Of course we shall never know the truth in either case. We could be forgiven for suspecting however that in modern Britain you may safely pervert the course of justice if you are a member, or under the political protection, of the ruling elite.

"Be you never so high, the law is above you", unless - it seems - the party in power deems otherwise.

Enough with the IPCC already

BBC NEWS | Special Reports | G20 | G20 fatality pushed by policeman.

I object to the very existence of the IPCC. A British policeman should be an ordinary citizen employed to enforce the law, just as anyone else could (and should). He should have no special rights or privileges. If a policeman misbehaves, he should be subject to exactly the same laws and processes as the rest of us. The Guardian's video shows what appears to be an unprovoked assault. There should be a prosecution, just as there would be if you or I had attacked Mr Tomlinson. There should be no delay for an IPCC investigation. The Crown Prosecution Service has a clear opportunity to redeem itself here, after its shameful performance in the case of Jean Charles de Menezes.

You may say that an independent body is needed to investigate the investigators. You may even be under the impression that this is what the IPCC does. Not so. In truth, this incident is being investigated by the City of London Police. The IPCC has no investigative resources of its own and is merely "managing". It is not designed for the prosecution of suspected criminals. Its rather limp mandate is:

We set standards for the way the police handle complaints and, when something has gone wrong, we help the police learn lessons and improve the way they work.

This is not about complaints handling or the learning of lessons. It is about a serious crime which may have led to a man's death. The police and the CPS can and should do the right thing. In the interests of restoring confidence in Britain's police forces, which many of us now see, not as our protectors, but as the praetorian guard of our out-of-control politicians, they should do it right quickly.

Miss Paine the elder tells me that one of her friends (a well-meaning young eco-sap) was at the G20 demonstration. Her impression was that the police focussed on soft targets. For example, she saw a 14 year old girl struck by a police baton when she was presenting no threat; just trying to find her way back to the group of friends from which she had become separated. On the other hand, she claims that the police steered well clear of violent anarchists, some of whom were attacking other protestors. So, they left the violent to get on with it, while seemingly determined to provoke a violent response from the peaceful. She also reported that the police constables near her group were initially friendly, but that their attitude changed after they had been taken aside for a pep talk by their officers.

The Tomlinson incident proves how wicked and foolish is Section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act. The American gentleman who filmed the attack arguably committed an offence. After all it is undoubtedly "...useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism..." to have film of how (ineptly) the police conduct themselves in such circumstances. In making the film, he performed an important public duty. Since none of us (tellingly) expects the footage from 10 CCTV cameras in the area to have survived, he has served the cause of justice and we should be grateful. The omnipresence of camera phones and cheap video cameras should mean that the police are more likely to be detected in any misconduct. That is a good thing. It is hard not to be cynical about their apparent determination not to be filmed or photographed.

In passing, can I just express my contempt for James Graham, the LibDem blogger who is busy making snide and scurrilous political points about the story? He alleges that rightwing and libertarian bloggers don't care about Mr Tomlinson because he's not from the middle classes (unlike - presumably - Jean Charles de Menezes). To hell with him and his class war. This is a story that should concern all of us.

A privatisation we should all oppose

Jack Straw plan for private inquests back on agenda | UK news | The Guardian.

When any government seeks to deny public justice on the grounds of "national security," alarm bells should ring. Politicians have a track record of confusing the nation's security with their own political convenience. In this example, making inquests "private" is a euphemism for making them secret. I cannot see how it can possibly jeopardise national security for state agents who kill to be cross-examined. Their identities can be protected during a public inquest as the law now stands. Why would a respectable government want more?

If you are a Labour supporter, I appeal to you in particular. It is long past time for you to recognise that dangerous lines are being crossed, day after day. It is not good enough to defend such things just because your party proposes them. You owe your fellow-citizens more than that. Please get in touch with your MP. Please go along to your next local party meeting. Do whatever you can to make it clear to Jack Straw that the magic words "national security" are not enough to make you abandon all decency.

Had this law been in place when the Metropolitan Police shot Jean Charles de Menezes, there would have been no independent public review of the conduct of his killers. It is hard to escape the ignoble conclusion that this is precisely why the government wants it.

Not that the inquest was an adequate process in that case. Had you or I killed Jean Charles in the mistaken belief he was a suicide bomber, we would have been charged with murder and a jury would have decided our guilt or innocence. Disgracefully, one arm of the British state (the Crown Prosecution Service) protected another (the Metropolitan Police) by deciding not to prosecute. That decision - a violation of the principle of equality before the law - is inexplicable in any but political terms.

The only jury the British state allowed near the de Menezes case was the coroner's jury. It

"...rejected the police account Mr de Menezes was killed lawfully by two officers who shot him seven times at Stockwell Tube in south London..."

Had it not, in my opinion, been misdirected by the coroner, I suspect the jury would have returned a verdict of unlawful killing in the de Menezes case. That would have made life difficult for the Crown Prosecution Service. We should not, perhaps, be surprised that the government wishes to avoid such narrow squeaks in future. Much though it has packed the judiciary at all levels with sympathetic types, it cannot (yet) guarantee that the coroner at the next such inquest will give such ferocious directions. Therefore, if Jack Straw has his way, the next such inquest will be held in secret. Or, as he prefers to put it, "in private".

This is a characteristic attack on our liberties. It is also an attack on openness and equality before the law. Both are essential to a free society. This is just the sort of issue that should be debated at the forthcoming Convention on Modern Liberty. Not that this authoritarian horror of a government will pay the slightest attention to that. Not that, for so long as such actions are seen as a political virility test, we can rely on a Conservative government to be better. Only when men and women of goodwill make this what it should be - the central political issue of our age - will the juggernaut of tyranny be stopped in its tracks, let alone be reversed.

h/t Harry Haddock

Jean Charles de Menezes: our national disgrace continues

Jean Charles de Menezes inquest: Jury reaches open verdict - Telegraph.

Jean rip

It was too much to hope for a lay jury to ignore the coroner's inexplicably strong direction that they had only two choices of verdict. This, even after the defence team walked out in protest and the bereaved family made their feelings clear. I imagine the six-day discussion resolved into the usual conflict between the authority-trusting and the rest. At least the "open" verdict confirms the jury was not satisfied that this was a "lawful killing" (the only other option the coroner offered).

I am sorry for his family, who must now be losing hope of truth or justice. I can only apologise. I am ashamed of my country and wish I could offer you better consolation in your grief. I hope that you will discuss with your learned and distinguished counsel the possibility of a private prosecution of the killers, including those (and not just those in the immediate chain of command) who gave the "Kratos" orders.

If funds for legal fees are an issue, I am sure there are many of us willing to donate. I don't think the men who pulled the trigger would be found guilty, but after all the slurs and spin, it might take very strong directions from a trial judge for their political masters to be acquitted.

UPDATE: As the story unfolds, the jury's answers to the series of questions (rather oddly) put to them by the coroner reveal that they believe the police officers at the scene perjured themselves. Given the unanimity of their account (and the unanimity of the other witnesses that their account was untrue) it seems reasonable to infer that the officers conspired to give false evidence. Were this about you or me, there is no question what the Crown Prosecution Service would now do. As it is about the CPS's fellow state agents we can no longer, in this Brave New Labour World,  expect equal treatment before the law.

Jury still out after six days

De Menezes inquest: jury continues deliberations into Stockwell shooting - Telegraph.

200px-12_angry_menThis seems to be the only good news of the day. No jury needs six days simply to comply with directions as clear as were given by the coroner. Someone in that jury room wants to return a (correct) verdict of unlawful killing. I hope they are replaying 12 Angry Men in there and that they all find the courage to ignore the coroner's directions.

Tony Blair decided to block de Menezes investigators

De Menezes inquest: Tony Blair backed decision to block investigators - Telegraph.

Since when is the criminal justice system under the personal direction of the Prime Minister? It was wrong for Blair the Plod to ask the question. It was wrong for Blair the Ego to answer it. Guthrum suggests that the PM should be charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. I think - having given the illegal Kratos orders - he should be charged with murder. As both the police and Crown Prosecution Service now seem to be under direct political control, that hardly seems likely.