UK Politics

Holding to account

I think the Observer editorial on the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes gets it about right.

For whatever reason, lies and misinformation about the actions, demeanour and even character of Mr de Menezes were allowed to circulate. Judgments were hasty, clarifications too slow. Each police commissioner stamps his mark not only on the London force but on national policing. What is at stake is more than one man’s integrity: the killing by police of an innocent commuter goes to the heart of British democracy, which is why, notwithstanding the dreadful circumstances of the 7 July murders, every aspect of the Menezes killing must be minutely examined.

We should also be concerned that a specific shoot-to-kill policy, now under review, was not disclosed to the British people, not least for their own protection. The police must always be accountable, and covertly changing operating rules because of active terrorism is a dangerous tack. At such times, the police must be more measured, more responsible and more disciplined, not less so. It is a matter of particular concern that the entire chain of command, from the platform of Stockwell Underground station to the office of Sir Ian, appears to have been in disarray.

The Sunday Times leader points out the opportunist attempt by Galloway’s mob to use the family of de Menezes.

Nobody should be allowed to exploit this tragedy. It should be properly and swiftly investigated and the lessons fully learnt. That, not cheap political point-scoring, should be Mr de Menezes’s legacy.

The Observer also has this news:

Police officers from the team involved in the fatal shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes did not believe he posed ‘an immediate threat’.
Senior sources in the Metropolitan Police have told The Observer that members of the surveillance team who followed de Menezes into Stockwell underground station in London felt that he was not about to detonate a bomb, was not armed and was not acting suspiciously. It was only when they were joined by armed officers that his threat was deemed so great that he was shot seven times.

Gene adds: It’s important for those on the anti-stopper Left to demand accountability on the de Menezes case– mainly because it’s the right thing to do but also because it’s obvious the Respect/SWP/StWC nexus is trying to claim the issue as their own. There’s no connection between being outraged about the killing of de Menezes and being “antiwar.”