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

Posts categorized "Jean-Charles de Menezes" Feed

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.

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.

Justice must be seen to be done?

Link: Jean Charles de Menezes inquest: 44 police officers granted anonymity - Telegraph.

If these policemen were employed by a totalitarian state (e.g. Zimbabwe) our press would call them a "death squad." Here, in our democracy, no-one even seems surprised that, not only will they face no criminal charges for gunning down an innocent man, they will not even face his family across a coroner's court. Where are the "War on Terror" merchants now to tell these officers that "if they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear?" Why don't they come out of the shadows to challenge the following statement?

"...the officers at the scene conspired to perjure themselves in stating that warnings of "Police" or "Armed Police" were given before firing and that de Menezes moved towards them in response. Seventeen witnesses, given no chance to collude, all confirmed he was shot dead without warning. Anyone with experience of criminal trials will tell you that such unanimity is almost unheard of. Policemen who give false evidence under oath are not worthy of our support..."

The Jean-Charles de Menezes case is what finally brought home to me what my country has become. A nation of cowards prepared to sacrifice truth, justice and liberty in the vain hope of safety from enemies real and imagined. A nation ruled by a political class devoid of honour or principle; a political class quite capable of lying about terrorist threats in order to justify self-serving actions. A nation which will allow its leaders to throw away everything (Magna Carta, habeas corpus, jury trials, the right to silence, the rule on double jeopardy, the presumption of innocence) which ever made it worthy of respect.

Lawyers against dictatorship

Link: Pakistan | Lawyers against the general |

I have two guaranteed ways to provoke hostile comments here. I can mention Jean Charles de Menezes or I can mention that I am a lawyer.

Many feel aggrieved that the legal profession in Britain has not done more to resist the present government's sustained assault on our liberties. That is not entirely fair. The Law Society has submitted, on behalf of the solicitors' profession, briefing papers in advance of many illiberal pieces of legislation. Such papers can be found at the Society's website. It is not the profession's fault that most Members of Parliament are more interested in advancing their careers than in protecting the interests of their constituents. Certainly, thanks to the Law Society, no MP voted for any of this trashy "cry wolf" legislation without having the chance to know exactly what he was doing.

The Blair era of the Labour regime was dominated by his chums from the "senior branch" of Britain's legal profession (the ones with the funny wigs and the quaint attitudes). I am not aware what steps the Bar Council took to save us from the worst of New Labour's legislative follies. Perhaps they too were briefing assiduously but were ignored by our Poodle Parliament. I hope so.

Apart from some gallant efforts by the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords (our highest court, staffed by judges who embarked on their careers while the present Prime Minister was still in nappies) it sometimes seems that the third branch of the legal profession (the judges) has not been doing its bit. With so little constitutional traction, perhaps it is not surprising they have been steadily pushed backwards.

Whatever I may say here as to the efforts of our legal professions, I have to admit that they have failed in the face of an enormously illiberal peacetime government. The writ of habeas corpus -arguably the English Law's greatest contribution to liberty - no longer runs in the land of its birth. Notwithstanding the profession's efforts at public advocacy, our political parties are engaged in a macho contest as to who can gamble more liberties for "public safety".

So it is good to be able unequivocally to praise some lawyers somewhere. In Pakistan,  lawyers have in recent weeks and months stood up to General Musharaff, Pakistan's dictator, as no other group has dared. Many of them are paying the price. The Law Society recently reported to solicitors in England & Wales that one in four of all lawyers in Pakistan are under arrest, including the Chief Justice. It has launched an online petition which will be presented to our Prime Minister on November 23rd. I fear Gordon Brown is little more sympathetic to civil liberties than the General himself. Nonetheless, I would encourage any lawyers reading this to sign up here.

As the Economist reports in the linked article;

In Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Multan ...crowds of up to 2,000 lawyers have rallied against General Musharraf's coup. Wearing black suits and sleek moustaches and chanting nicely-worded slogans (“Dictatorship? Not acceptable!”), they are the general's main opponents...

With baton charges, and a whiff of tear-gas, the police are trying to quash the dissent. Hundreds of lawyers have been thrashed in the streets.

Some of my readers, including some I count as friends, will thrill a little at the thought of lawyers "thrashed in the streets." If these Pakistani lawyers stand up to the State for their clients as fiercely as they are doing it for their Constitution, I can only say that they are worth their fees.

General Musharraf calls this a state of emergency: a constitutional provision that allows for the suspension of some rights. Experts disagree. “The constitution does not provide for its own extinction. This is martial law,” said Salman Raja, one of Pakistan's finest constitutional lawyers, educated at Cambridge and Harvard—and detained in Model Town police station, Lahore.

Accustom yourself, dear readers, to the strange thought that there are lawyers worthy of your respect.

The Jean Charles memorial blog round up

Menezes2 For two years, my most unpopular blog posts have been about the summary execution of Jean Charles de Menezes. Many right of centre readers are instinctive supporters of the police. So am I, but this was neither British policing as we know it, nor as we should wish to know it.

The Government's tactics have been brilliantly evil. The CPS refused to bring criminal charges, though the guilt or innocence of any of us who had killed Jean Charles under the same misapprehension would undoubtedly have been decided by a jury and even though - in theory - we are all (including agents of the State) equal before the law.

To provide the appearance of justice, the Metropolitan Police was prosecuted - slowly - under Health & Safety legislation. Neither the killers, their incompetent commanders nor their political masters were at risk. The worst that could happen would be that the Police the taxpayers would pay a fine. They have allowed years to pass without responding to critics under the pretext that the matter was sub judice. Of course this did not stop the propaganda arms of both Government and Met from blackening the dead man's name.

The impending mock trial was also enough to delay publication of the report of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which came to damning conclusions. Not least - incredibly - the report reveals that the arrogant leader of the Metropolitan Police deliberately impeded the investigation.

Delaying all this until the public had "moved on" was news management worthy of Goebbels himself.

The evidence was truly appalling, worse even than my speculations here over the past two years. The police had dithered, allowing the suspect to use public transport. If they believed he was wearing a bomb belt, they should have stopped him earlier. It seems they put their own "Health & Safety" before that of the public. By the accounts of their own commander, the handling of the situation was confused. She disowned the shooters' actions; claiming she had ordered them NOT to kill.

I defy the men in question to sue me for stating the following; the officers at the scene conspired to perjure themselves in stating that warnings of "Police" or "Armed Police" were given before firing and that de Menezes moved towards them in response. Seventeen witnesses, given no chance to collude, all confirmed he was shot dead without warning. Anyone with experience of criminal trials will tell you that such unanimity is almost unheard of. Policemen who give false evidence under oath are not worthy of our support.

The bullets fired were described in evidence as "special." They certainly were. Soft-nosed dum-dum bullets, so vile as to be illegal in warfare. Seven of them exploded in Jean-Charles' head.  The framing of the picture above says it all. His jacket was raised not to conceal his head, but its absence.

I have not been banging on about this because I hate the police. I don't. They do a tough job. In my time I have made a citizen's arrest and otherwise aided them. I am their instinctive supporter. I have blogged about this repeatedly - and to the displeasure of many readers - because it matters.

It is not just that the police made a mistake. Not just that they lied. Not just that the orders they were given were illegal. Not just that, chillingly, they accepted them without question. The worst aspect of all has been public indifference. If we will not draw a line at this, our free society is in mortal danger.

From now on, any dissenter can be killed on the say-so of any State agent. All the killer has to say is that s/he suspected the victim was a terrorist. That will be enough, it seems, to satisfy the British public. Please remember that every victim of Nazi or Stalinist terror was alleged by the authorities to be a terrorist, saboteur or otherwise an "enemy of the people". If an allegation, however ill-founded, is enough to still the voice of public opinion we are ready for a police state. On the day Jean Charles was killed and a few lies about him (being an illegal immigrant, jumping a turnstile, wearing "unseasonal" clothes) were enough to bring us onside, a terrible line was crossed.

Our education system has been so thoroughly subverted, that the vast majority of our people are incapable of critical thought. From birth, they have been drenched in the simple notion that private initiative is bad and that State action is good; that the Government is - in effect  - morally superior to its people. It is the only political thought in most of our fellow-citizens' heads.

The blogosphere is similarly infected. Mine has been one of few voices consistently criticising the actions of Government and Police for the horrors of that tragic day. As the evidence has finally come out - through the "trial" and the long-delayed report of the IPCC - other voices have joined in. Here are some links to blog posts in the last week. I commend them to you.

Time to go

17 to 8 - So who do you believe?

Just sack the man

Bang Bang (My baby shot me down)

De Menezes: Why was the firearms team delayed?

What would we say if it were the Russian or Chinese police who acted like this?

de Menezes: Blair as mendacious and deluded as his namesake



I am tired of trying to explain the de Menezes case to a heartless nation. The Daily Mash says it all in the linked article, so much better than I can. In doing so, it satirises perfectly the arrogant disregard for life and liberty - and the lack of accountability - that is at the heart of New Labour's Britain.

No-one should have to fire Sir Ian Blair. If he were half a man, he would have resigned long since.

Who really killed de Menezes? | David Aaronovitch - Times Online

Link: Who really killed de Menezes? | David Aaronovitch - Times Online.

RatiocinatorDavid Aaronovitch was more noted for rhetoric than reasoning when he was a Leftist National Union of Students "hack" in my university days. He was a smug "lefter than thou," faux-prole, sent-down-from Oxbridge,  scruff then. He is a screw-loose political columnist now. Plus ca change.

Why stop at blaming the 7/7 and 24/7 London terrorists for Jean Charles de Menezes death? Certainly the Metropolitan Police would not have been running around our capital city like panic-stricken incompetents that day, had it not been for those terrorists. But the terrorists would not have been homicidal maniacs were it not for their warped ideology. And their warped ideology could not have been propagated were it not for the mullahs in their mosques. And the mosques would never have existed were it not for Islam. By his reasoning (not mine) an equally-correct answer to his stupid question is "The Prophet Mohammed (pbuh)"

One of the joys of worshipping at the altar of the Bitch Goddess of Socialism, is that everything is someone else's fault. Or often no-one else's (aka "Society's"). Aaronovitch has been an acolyte for so long that he has lost all ability to think in terms of personal responsibility (except on the part of political opponents).

As he has posed this interesting question however, let me answer it seriously. Who really killed Jean Charles de Menezes? Here is my (possibly incomplete) list:

1. Tony Blair who, as Prime Minister, authorised a policy to order the police to kill people in circumstances where the officers might have no lawful defence to a charge of murder;
2. The Home Secretary who instructed the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to implement that policy;
3. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner who accepted that instruction;
4. The officers who so failed to exercise their personal judgement on the scene that they killed an innocent man under police restraint although he was so clad that he could not concealed a bomb.

We can only speculate as to the state of  mind of the killers as they pulled their triggers. The officer restraining Jean Charles has given evidence that he feared for his own life. I think it's fair to infer that their blood was up. Their commander (with the charming loyalty of the State apparatchik) has given evidence that she ordered them not to kill him. They did it anyway.

Please let's face the facts here. An innocent man was summarily executed in our name in the most brutal way - his head blown off with illegal dum dum bullets - by a squad of our public servants. This was done on the orders of our Government and without the sanction of Parliament. Our "servants" then told us a barrage of lies about the dead man to distract attention from what they had done. These people, God help us, work for us. In a sense, we are all guilty until we rise up against them.

'Menezes 'aggressive' to officers'

Link: 'Menezes \'aggressive\' to officers'.

What an interesting definition of "aggressive". In our New Labour police state, it appears to mean "not submissive." Jean-Charles de Menezes reacted to being attacked by strangers in plain clothes exactly as a free man would. For this, he died.

At least he died a free man. At this rate, most Britons will not.

Police 'had no order to shoot de Menezes'

Link: Police 'had no order to shoot de Menezes' - Telegraph.

DickI have two questions today. They acted, according to the commander in charge on the day, without orders. Indeed, they were ordered to "stop". Why then have the killers of Jean-Charles de Menezes not been charged with murder? My second question is, given how she has just hung her men out to dry, how would you like to have this woman as your boss?