Cummings and Owens...
On the day Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by police at Stockwell underground station, the control room directing operations from the 16th floor at New Scotland Yard was crowded, "noisy", "lively", and "chaotic", we've been told, with officers coming and going, a co-ordinator having to call for quiet, and an officer taking messages from the surveillance team having to raise his arm and call for attention from those in charge.
A senior firearms officer who advised Commander Cressida Dick on the day has told the inquest that Scotland Yard had no specific plans for pursuit of failed suicide bombers.
But Chief Inspector Vince Esposito, who helped develop police tactics said these tactics, based on "information we had gleaned from around the world to be brought back to aid our own understanding", included the rule that a "critical shot" should only be fired if a suspect was identified and was carrying an explosive device.
Jean Charles de Menezes was shot seven times in the head, though neither identified nor carrying anything.
A Special Branch officer, identified only by the codename "Owen", referred to Commander Cressida Dick ordering a "hard stop" by SO 19 firearms officers. He explained that this meant an "aggressive stop" . "That is why a firearms team is there". "Owen" is to face investigation after admitting on Monday that he had altered evidence concerning discussions in the Scotland Yard Operations Room just before Jean Charles de Menezes was shot on July 22, 2005.
The inquest has heard how Jean Charles, a Brazilian electrician who was on his way to work that morning, had been followed by a police surveillance team detailed to pursue Hussein Osman, a bombing suspect, who had lived in the same block of flats as him. But though at times the pursuers thought he might be their man, at no point did they make a positive identification. Hussein Osman was no longer at the address.
When Jean Charles alighted from his bus at Stockwell at least two officers from the surveillance team were in position to intercept him before he reached the tube station. They made no effort to stop him. It now appears that according to "Pat", an officer who was receiving messages in the operations room, they did ask whether to intercept, but Commander Dick wanted the SO19 firearms team to do it.
According to Superintendent Bob Cummings, a Flying Squad officer whom Commander Dick had asked to join her in the control room, the order was given to the surveillance team, but this was altered, when Esposito indicated his firearms team were in position to affect it.. Asked by Michael Mansfield QC what he understood by "stop", Cummings said he took it to mean "stop and detain".
On Monday, the officer identified only as "Owen" gave evidence behind screens. He had been deputy co-ordinator in the operations room, which he said was "very noisy" that day, with people coming and going,, noisier than during any previous operations in which he had been involved.
"Owen" was asked about the point when the subject (Jean Charles) appeared to make a text call on his mobile. "Owen" went into the intelligence cell adjoining the operations room to report this. Could the police not have used available technology which would have told them this was not Hussein Osman's 'phone. (At this point counsel for the police intervened to object to this line of questioning, and I am not sure what answer if any we got).
"Owen" was also questioned about notes he had made as an 'aide memoir' in the weeks after the Stockwell shooting. In the original version he referred to a "management discussion" as Jean Charles approached Stockwell station, in which CD suggested the subject "can run to the tube as not carrying anything"; but was "persuaded" otherwise.
A subsequent statement only refers to a "management discussion on the appropriate course of action"..
'Owen' had not mentioned his notes during the Old Bailey trial of police officers last year on "Health and Safety" charges. But Scotland Yard computer records show that having filed his notes on July 31, 2005, the officer accessed them again on August 3, that year and then again on October 7, last week, when the inquest had already opened, and he was asked whether he had.any notes.
'Owen' admitted to having altered his notes about the "management discussion", claiming he had only done so to remove evidence he could not swear to. He denied having told a Metropolitan Police solicitor during telephone conversations on October 8 that management had asked him to make the amendment.
It was reported today that the Independent Police Complaints Commission is likely to order an investigation into 'Owen''s admission of altering evidence.
Justice For Jean Inquest blog:
Official transcripts of Inquest:
...and nasty Nick Cohen
ON the day the Jean Charles de Menezes inquest opened at the Oval a large banner was hung from the balconies of nearby flats demanding ""Inquest not cover-up — Justice for Jean". Clearly visible to people arriving and to passing traffic, it was a brilliant stroke for the Justice4Jean campaign, at the centre of which is the de Menezes family, except - though the campaigners were delighted and grateful, the banner had been made and hung out by residents on their own initiative.
The Justice4 Jean campaign organisers had not even known them.
Since the inquest began, besides the campaigners I knew, a variety of people have come to attend. Yesterday, for example, I was talking to a charming soft-spoken lady from Northern Ireland, who had come with her son. Judging from our conversation I would say her views were small "c" conservative, loyalist, and law-abiding, neither left-wing nor generally libertarian, but ...she obviously didn't like to think that an innocent person could be shot dead by armed police on a train, and nothing be done, or that senior police officers should be allowed to conceal the truth.
Two other people I've met had both attended the Diana inquest, and appeared to be fans of lawyer Mike Mansfield, though neither was particularly left-wing, and one - I'd love to have introduced her to the Ulster lady -was fervently Catholic, and upset that someone she considered a co-religionist had been killed.
Then there's the chap who came along with a tee shirt alleging corruption in the West Mercia police, and having listened to the evidence for a while, went out to join an old chap with a placard at the gate. I think it was the same old fellow whose previous placard had demanded the sacking of police commissioner Sir Ian Blair and deputy commissioner Cressida Dick Well, he has had half his wishes granted. And thanks apparently to Mayor Boris. For whatever reason.
What I'm suggesting is that not only do most people sympathise with Jean Charles de Menezes and his family at a human level, as we saw in the tributes at Stockwell, but there is now a widespread feeling, by no means confined to the radical Left, that our democratic rights and expectations of justice can not be entrusted to those in authority. People do not feel safe trusting the police.
There are exceptions, of course. I remember the Daily Express after Jean Charles was killed saying we should all be glad we were being protected from terrorists, and the Evening Standard had a piece by Nick Cohen on the eve of the inquest jeering "De Menezes -the Left's new excuse to beat up the police".
I gave up on former Leftie Cohen after neither he nor the Observer replied to nor published my criticism of his column alleging opponents of the Iraq war must all be suporters of Saddam Hussein. He said we should explain why we were demonstrating to left-wing Iraqis and Kurds. I said if he had bothered to come out to the big demonstrations he could have met plenty of left-wing Iraqis and Kurds.
Since then Cohen has sought my help with a book he was writing about the Left, and I declined to give it. I haven't seen the book but if he has quoted anything I've said he neither asked nor received my permission.
Anyway my fellow blogger Kevin Blowe has replied to Nasty Nick, and I'll leave it at that. http://kevinblowe.blogspot.com/2008/09/de-menezes-lefts-new-excuse-to-beat-up.html
Except to say that all sorts of people are concerned over the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, and the way we were lied to. When the truth is denied all sorts of confused attempts to understand reality can surface, and I've even seen a "conspiracy theory" touching on hidden forces in government and Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick's involvment, put forward by some retired naval officer on the wilder fringes of UKIP. But that's all the more reason for left-wing militants to seek the truth and support a genuine
campaign like that for Justice for Jean Charles de Menezes.
Indeed, it should be the duty of anyone who considers themselves a democrat. And pursuit of the truth should be the dedicated aim of anyone who considers themself a decent journalist. But clearly someone who tells his readers that the police are being beaten up by the Left has wandered well away from that aim. Whatever Nick Cohen is on, it's not a truth quest.
Labels: Police and terror