Saturday, August 20, 2005

One Death out of 57

Sir Ian Blair

First, I again want to make clear that a full independent public enquiry must be held into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes. Sir Ian is almost certainly not the only one who should be taking the blame for this event.

The Radio 4 interview with Sir Ian Blair has now been broadcast. It's available online if you missed it. Now, we all know that Sir Ian is a smooth operator. He's a man who chooses his words with great care. Consider:
The information I have available if that this shooting is directly linked to the ongoing and expanding anti-terrorist operation.
Sir Ian, 22 July, 2005
This was an entirely accurate statement, and yet it contains almost no useful information whatsoever. It seems that much of the media didn't notice this at the time. As such, I thought I'd listen to this new interview a couple of times just see if I could spot what he actually has and has not said. Here are my thoughts.

The Context
Sir Ian emphasises the context in which the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes occurred.
It is one death out of fifty seven.
This is, again, in it's own way, quite true, but again, it's not a particularly useful truth. This might be a more useful context for Sir Ian.
It is one death out of only one in which officers acting under my command shot an innocent man repeatedly in the head after he had been physically restrained.
He didn't say that though. Also, the other 56 deaths were the result of illegal activities. Is it a step in the right direction that Sir Ian acknowledges that this 57th death belongs in the same category? Sadly, I think not. His context is a mess. (In another sad irony, he later asserts that "We don't do spin".)

The Cover-up
When asked about the alleged cover-up, Sir Ian was defiant.
The thing that I would want to say is that of all the allegations made in the last couple of days, the matter I would most want to reject is the concept of a cover-up.
I'm pretty sure this reflects the fact that he knows he's got his position on this well covered, and that he's confident this accusation will never stick. He's probably right. I suspect it's not worth spending too much time pursing this.
He was rather evasive on the issue of why it took until Wednesday for the IPCC to gain access to the investigation.
I don't know anything about that.
I find it rather odd that we doesn't know anything about why this happened but there you are. I'd say that there almost certainly have been some deliberate delaying tactics employed along the way, more to muddy perception of what actually happened than as part of full blown cover-up.

The Suspicious Cirmumstances
There are a whole number of features around heavyweight coats and leaping over barriers which have never been said or confirmed by the Metropolitan Police Service...
Where did these lies come from then? Sir Ian attributes them to "eyewitness statement" quoted in the media. A suggestion that someone at the Met may have been the source of these rumours is met with outright denial.
That's not what we did.
It's strange then, that some of these details appear in the official pathology report into the killing. But Sir Ian has flatly denied that his officers werre involved in spreading these untruths. It's something of a dilemma. Pure speculation here, but I suggest this might be because Sir Ian has a very good idea as to who did spread these rumours, and that it wasn't the Met but someone from another organisation. This should be a key point for a public enquiry to examine, in my opinion.

Illegal Immigrant?
When asked if the Metropolitan police had been involved in the suggestion, published by the media, that Mr de Menezes was an illegal immigrant, Sir Ian says
I have absolutely no knowledge. There is no reason why we would know that.
That is quite definitely not an unequivocal denial. It also doesn't make much sense. If you're investigating the identity of a foreign national you've just shot in the head, it seems reasonable to assume that you might look into his immigration status. Or could no-one be arsed to check? It's not a major point, but it does add to the disgusting stink which surrounds this whole event.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. We need a full enquiry, looking at the actions of Sir Ian, his officers, the Home Office, and any other organisations or individuals involved in this killing. When was the shoot to kill policy introduced? Why was it not made public? Why were the police not monitoring the flat of the suspects, rather than the block of flats?* Why was it necessary to shoot to kill after Jean had been restrained by an officer? Where did the lies about his "suspicious behaviour" come from? This list of questions is long. Answers must be made available, both to Mr de Menezes family, and to the public as a whole.

BTW, Sir Ian, as I've said, stated categorically that the Met does not spin. You have to question the wisdom of spending much of the second part of the interview harping on about how policing has become increasingly political, and stressing of the importance of the police being able to present themselves, and their activities, well to the public. Idiot.

*Some sort of spy camera in the hallway overlooking the door of the flat in question, installed by a suitable "workman" perhaps, would have meant this killing would not have happened. I'm not normally a fan of such things, but in the case of suspected suicide bombers, I'd be quite happy to mke an exception.

No comments: