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Jean Charles de Menezes Inquest

Updates from the Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign

Statement on Today's Release of the Coroner's Rule 43 Report

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign and the family's lawyers, Birnberg Peirce, issued the following statement on the Coroner’s Rule 43 recommendations and response from the Metropolitan Police:

"At the inquest into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, the legal team acting for the family raised a range of concerns about the police operation at every level, including in particular the lack of clarity and control in the command structure, the confusion over the role of the Designated Senior Officer, the lack of clarity over identification, the failure of communication between the different teams (control room, surveillance and firearms) and the inherent weakness in the MPS strategy to deal with failed suicide bombers. It was the family’s position that the combination of these serious failings contributed directly to the death of Jean Charles and the jury at the inquest, insofar as they were permitted to, shared this view in their verdict.

The family regret that none of the officers giving evidence at the inquest, and in particular those in command of the operation, were prepared to accept responsibility for the failings, instead maintaining they had done nothing wrong. They note that the Rule 43 report of the coroner identifies many of the failings that the family’s legal team sought to expose and welcomes the significant recommendations for improved practice many of which the Metropolitan Police have accepted, showing in their response a willingness to implement changes. They question why, if the raft of weaknesses identified are now accepted, it remains the case that no senior officer has accepted personal responsibility for such catastrophic failures or has been held to account. Instead many of the key officers have been promoted. When no-one is held to account, the family fear that any such changes will be cosmetic, with no stick to ensure a real commitment to reform.

One key area that the Rule 43 report and MPS response fails to tackle adequately goes to the heart of the ‘shoot to kill’ debate. If an armed officer has no intelligence or other information that tells him that the suspect has the means to detonate a bomb, he must issue a challenge or we risk repeat killings by the police.

A proper public debate about the ‘shoot-to kill’ policy is now long overdue. As Nick Hardwick, the chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said after the inquest in December 2008, “The inquest and health and safety trial have necessarily focused on the specific events of 22 July 2005. They have not examined the broader issue of how the police should respond to the threat of suicide terrorism. I call again for this to have much broader debate and scrutiny by the public and their representatives.”

The family remain determined that lessons should be learnt and officers held to account. To this end they welcome the Director of Public Prosecutions invitation to meet with him later this month, and the IPCC’s willingness to consider representations from the family in respect of disciplinary decisions. They will continue to push for parliamentary accountability. It is now time for that debate to begin without delay. Jean's family in London has therefore written to Keith Vaz MP, the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, asking for a meeting to discuss what role his committee can have in ensuring this important public discussion starts as soon as possible."

ENDS

For press enquiries contact the Justice4Jean campaign on 07709 656 251

Documents

Coroner's Rule 43 Report [PDF, 5.8Mb] - warning, large file!
Metropolitan Police Response [PDF, 180K]
Metropolitan Police Authority Response [PDF, 35K]
MPA Stockwell Scrutiny Report [PDF, 304K]

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Menezes Family Condemn CPS Decision Not to Prosecute

Friday, 13 February 2009

Vivian Figuierdo

"Today's decision is deeply upsetting to my family. The CPS have not met with us or our lawyers about this, we have been totally shut out of the process again. We are all in shock and simply cannot understand how the deliberate killing of an innocent man and an attempt by the Metropolitan police to cover it up does not result in a criminal offence. We condemn the CPS decision and reject the logic of their argument.

The inquest put the truth out there for all the public to see, but the authorities want us to forget the truth to stop us getting justice. But we will never forget.

After almost four years of tireless campaigning by my family and a struggle which has disrupted all of our lives in unimaginable ways, it is clear to us that the state will continue to block any of our attempts to achieve justice through the legal system. We have therefore decided not to continue with our legal challenges. We now turn our efforts to parliament. Justice for Jean will be done one day and we are determined to follow any route to get it"

A spokesperson for the Justice 4 Jean Campaign said

"The decision by the Crown Prosecution Service today marks another low point in appalling way the British legal system has dealt with the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes. Last year, the jury at the inquest found that Jean was not lawfully killed; rejected the police's versions of events and found that the police lied. How can the public have faith in the police service if they know officers can literally get away with murder? The Menezes family, their lawyers and supporters now call on parliamentarians to act on repairing the failing legislative framework around deaths in custody and police accountability and we will be stepping up their campaign in this area.

Almost exactly 10 years from the publication of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry today's decision makes it clear that there has been no progress in achieving any sense of a decent system of police accountability in the UK and while the shoot to kill policy remains in place, another family could go through the same horrendous ordeal as the Menezes family "

Harriet Wistrich, solicitor for the Menezes family said

We are disappointed that the CPS have communicated their decision to the media before providing the family with any warning that a decision was about to be made or an opportunity to consider the reasoning for what will undoubtedly be considered a disappointing response. By coincidence, the family had just prepared detailed representations to the CPS of reasons why
a prosecution of certain officers should be considered and we have requested a meeting with the DPP.


After careful consideration regarding the proposed judicial review challenge to the coroner's decision not to return an unlawful killing verdict, the family have decided not to proceed with this challenge for a number of reasons including the following:
  • whilst we maintain that the ruling of the coroner in respect of unlawful killing was wrong, we are acutely aware of the very significant cost to the public purse of pursuing judicial review proceedings – it islikely that in addition to the legal costs to the family and the coroner, the five other interested persons at the inquest will also wish to be legally represented and probably all will require public funding; the proceedings are likely to be protracted and appealed to a higher court by the losing party

  • if we were to succeed in our judicial review challenge, the only remedy for the family would be for the court to order a fresh inquest and we cannot see any great benefit in re-hearing all the evidence to enable a different jury to come to a verdict, particularly bearing in mind the very high cost of holding such an inquest, such costs being borne by the residents of Southwark, Lambeth, Greenwich and Lewisham.

  • we believe that in the light of the answers given by the jury, they may well have returned an unlawful killing verdict if they had been permitted to.

  • we consider that in the light of the jury's verdict and the significant further evidence that emerged during the course of the inquest, that there is ample ground for the DPP to reconsider the question as to whether any officers should be prosecuted.

  • we also believe there are good grounds for the IPCC to reconsider its decision in relation to potential disciplinary proceedings against certain officers and will be making further representations to them.
The letter from Stephen O’Doherty of the Crown Prosecution Service can be downloaded here [PDF, 67K]

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Menezes family's response to the Jury's verdict

Saturday, 13 December 2008
Menezes family response to the Jury’s verdict 12/12/08

We have spoken to Jean’s family in Brazil and they, like us, feel vindicated by the jury’s verdict. The jury’s verdict is a damning indictment of the multiple failures of the police and the lies they told. It is clear from their verdict today that the jury could have gone further had they not been gagged by the coroner. We thank the jury for their efforts in going as far as they could within the restrictions placed on them. They delivered the best result they could have done. Especially by stating that the police lied about warnings and that Jean's behavior was completely innocent and should not have aroused suspicions.

We maintain that Jean Charles de Menezes was unlawfully killed.

During the inquest we heard weeks of damning evidence about the police’s actions. We were therefore devastated to find out that the jury had been gagged by the Coroner at the end of the inquest. It is a travesty of justice that after three months, 100 witnesses and a cost of £3 million pounds, the jury were restricted.

For 3 ½ years we have had one simple request, that all the evidence be put in front of the jury and for them to be allowed to decide. The questions left for the jury were limited in scope and were biased in the way they were written. As the inquest progressed it became more and more clear to us that the Coroner was clearly on the side of the police. That is why with deep regret and frustration we had to instruct our lawyers to leave the process.

Jean Charles de Menezes was my cousin, he was my friend, he was someone I loved. But he could have been your cousin, your friend, someone you loved. He could have been anyone of us. Our campaign for justice has always been not only for Jean, but so that no other family suffers like we have. But unless there is justice and police officers are held accountable, a tragic death like Jean’s could easily be repeated.

We now be contacting the Home Secretary to voice our concerns about not only the inquest, but all the failures from the state bodies investigating this case. From the IPCC investigations, the CPS decision not to prosecute and the MPA’s decision not to discipline the officers involved.

We also hope to meet the Chair of the MPA, Boris Johnson, to discuss what action he will take against the police officers based on the evidence that came out of the inquest. We found it disgraceful that every officer got up in court and told us that nothing had gone wrong and they would do the same thing again.

We appeal to members of parliament and ask that the Home Affairs Select Committee to undertake an inquiry into Jean’s death and the failings in the systems for accountability. Parliament needs to understand that investigations without justice are meaningless.

When Jean was killed I made a promise to him that we would fight for justice no matter how long it took and what was thrown in our way. I repeat that promise to him today. Our campaign continues in the loving memory of our innocent cousin. We will be here until there is Justice4Jean.

We would like to thank the British public for all their support.

Patricia da Silva Armani
Cousin of Jean Charles de Menezes

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J4J's Post Inquest Briefing and Legal Submissions on Verdicts

The campaign's post-inquest briefing is now available to download [PDF, 39K]

The family's legal submission to the Coroner on verdicts is also available here [PDF, 281K]

Other legal submissions on verdicts

Command Team - includes DAC Cressida Dick here [PDF, 423K]
Metropolitan Police Service here [PDF, 599K]
Firearms officers - here [PDF, 132K]
Independent Police Complaints Commission - here [PDF, 47K]
Surveillance team - part 1 [PDF, 65K] and part 2 [PDF, 69K]

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Former London Mayor praises senior officer in charge of failed police operation as potential future Met Commissioner


Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who has staunchly defended both outgoing Commissioner Sir Ian Blair and the officers involved in the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, has praised the senior officer who led the operation that resulted in Jean's death.

Livingstone told BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning that he acknowledged the Met police deserved criticism for the errors they made but said these were the result of the "unbelievable" pressure they were under - a factor that the inquest jury were unable to agree upon.

The former Mayor also lavishly praised Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick as the "most talented" officer he worked with, an officer with "Commissioner potential". DAC Dick was the senior officer in charge of the police operation on 22 July 2005, an operation that was the inquest jury believed was a surveillance failure and a communications disaster, with numerous opportunities to make decisions that could have prevented Jean's death.

Cressida Dick's twenty five serious and catastrophic failures

The interview with Livingstone was followed by the family's lawyer Gareth Peirce, who pointed out that the family had highlighted "25 serious and catastrophic failures on the part of Cressida Dick alone." She added that "the handling of the events that led up to the fatal shooting was disastrous, and it was disastrous on the part of the senior officers, who had a public duty and were paid to exercise that duty of care."

You can listen to both interviews online here or download as an MP3 (warning - 6Mb file. Right-click to save). Gareth Peirce's interview starts at 7 minutes.

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Summary of Saturday's Press Coverage


Independent: Menezes: Did the police lie?

Daily Telegraph: Police evidence called into question by inquest jury

The Times: Jean Charles de Menezes jury condemns police

Daily Mail: De Menezes jury damns police 'cover-up'

The Sun: De Menezes: Jury Lashes Police

The Guardian: Police who shot De Menezes will return to frontline duty

The Financial Times: De Menezes jury rejects police account

The Daily Mirror: Prosecute lying cops, demand Jean Charles de Menezes lawyers

Daily Express: Jury backs de Menezes family: It's a 'whitewash'

Belfast Telegraph: Jury returns open verdict as they reject police de Menezes claim

The Scotsman: Dead man walking: the last moments of de Menezes' life

The Herald: Menezes jury verdict on police: we don’t believe you

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Coverage from this evening

Friday, 12 December 2008

Channel 4 News coverage



Channel 4 interview with family solicitor Harriet Wistrich



ITN News - interview with Jean's mother Maria

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Press statement from the family


Press statement by the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, the campaign and their lawyers Birnberg Peirce following the jury’s verdict

“Today is a very important day for our family and campaign for justice. We have spoken to Jean’s family in Brazil and they like us feel vindicated by the jury’s verdict. The jury’s verdict is a damning indictment of the multiple failures of the police and the lies they told. It is clear from the verdict today that the jury could have gone further had they not been gagged by the Coroner. We maintain that Jean Charles de Menezes was unlawfully killed” – Patricia Armani Da Silva, cousin of Jean Charles on behalf of all of the family.

The family’s legal team argued that evidence heard by the jury provided sufficient grounds for the jury to return unlawful killing (murder) in respect of the two police shooters, C12 and C2 as well unlawful killing (gross negligence manslaughter) in respect of the actions of three of the command team. We also submitted that, in accordance with Article 2 (ECHR) the jury should be permitted to return a meaningful narrative verdict that could identify all the police failings that caused or contributed to the death of Jean Charles de Menezes.

The five legal teams representing supposedly separate interests of the police combined ranks to oppose our submissions, maintain that the evidence only supported a lawful killing or open verdict. The coroner ruled in favour of the police. As a consequence the family sought to challenge the decision, lodging an urgent application at the High Court. Mr Justice Silber considered the challenge in relation to the narrative verdict only but ruled that the coroner had a wide discretion and he would not interfere with his ruling.

The family considered that the coroner had effectively gagged the jury. Any verdict returned by them would have at best limited meaning and would not have the effect of holding the police accountable for any failings. At that stage, having exhausted all legal avenues, the family instructed their legal team to cease participating in the inquest proceedings.

We have lodged grounds to appeal the decision of Mr Justice Silber and our judicial review challenge of the coroner’s decision in respect of unlawful killing remains to be considered.

To date, not one police officer involved has been held personally accountable for failings that led to the death of Jean Charles. In fact the two most senior officers in the command team have been promoted. The law as it stands, effectively provides legal immunity for police officers who shoot innocent people in the cause of protecting the public.

This case raises questions of critical constitutional importance. Should our armed police service be protected from meaningful criticism (let alone criminal sanction) or are the public entitled to go about their day to day business free from the fear that they could be shot dead without warning if mistaken for a suspected terrorist?

For further information and background information visit: inquest.justice4jean.org

The press conference, from Channel 4 News

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The Menezes family - Q&A


Is the family pleased with the verdict? Do they feel justice has been done?

The decision today will not bring our cousin Jean back.

However, it goes at least some way to recognising the failings that led to his death. We thank the jury for the considerable time they contributed to this inquest and their careful review of all the evidence within the boundaries given to them.

Agencies and institutions involved in all aspects of this case must now demonstrate their own accountability and make fundamental changes to their practices and procedures.

In their conclusions, the jury have delivered a strong critique of the police and its failings. They have said that they do not believe that the police gave a warning before shots were fired, or that Jean advanced towards firearms officers in the tube train. The family appreciate this conclusion.

We have come a little closer to the truth during the course of the inquest. Nevertheless, the gagging of the options available to the jury constitutes a abject failure of the role of the inquest.

What will the family do now?

The family has consistently struggled for justice, which has not yet been delivered. We will continue to pursue this aim.

The next stage is a judicial review of the Coroner’s decision not to allow an unlawful killing verdict. We will also be examining all other legal avenues because we feel that the Coroner has ensured that the inquest failed in its fundamental role to properly examine why our cousin Jean was killed.

As the legal situation stands today, another innocent member of the public could be shot and another family could go through the same ordeal as us.

Will the family be asking for compensation?

The family has not pursued this as a priority. Our central concern has always been to find out the truth about Jean's death.

When we buried Jean in 2005,we made a promise to him that we would make sure that justice was done. Jean was a great believer in justice, one of the things he most loved about living in Britain was respect for the rule of law and that nobody was above the law. We owe it to his memory to make sure that nobody else suffers the way that he did.

In light of the verdict, we would nevertheless hope that any issues around compensation to be settled in a dignified manner, without obstruction or delay.

What is your message to Sir Ian Blair?

Today’s verdict confirms that Sir Ian Blair has repeatedly evaded any responsibility for the killing of an innocent man, by misleading the public in the aftermath of the shooting so that no-one in his police force is held to account over the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes.

However, having misrepresented the shooting as simply a ‘tragic mistake’ rather than the result of terrible policy and procedural failures, it is clear that Jean's death will always be Sir Ian's legacy, the judgement on his time as Commissioner that he will never escape.

Has the family any message to the jury?

We consider that the jury were given unacceptable restraints upon the verdict they could deliver and feel that, within the choices available to them, they tried their best to deliver a fair verdict. We thank them for their handling of this difficult task.

We feel that in light of the evidence heard, a free decision by the jury would have at least have left a possibility of a verdict of unlawful killing.

It is disappointing that the Coroner made clear attempts to exclude the public, media and the family's campaign from the inquest.

The family would also like to express their appreciation for the many messages of support from the British public during this difficult time.

The family staged a protest in court. Do they stand by their actions? Do they feel these actions made a difference?

The family stands by our actions because we feel that we were left with no choice. We wanted the jury to know that they could have the freedom to make their decision, despite the limitations placed upon them.

Do you think Cressida Dick should resign?

The family should not have to carry the responsibility of this decision. Public bodies have a responsibility to hold her accountable and they have failed to do so.

In light of DAC Dick’s direct involvement as the designated senior officer of a disastrously handled operation that led to the shooting of an innocent man, her promotion in the aftermath of the shooting was considered by us to be a deliberate slap in the face for our family and our view on this remains unchanged.

We once again call on the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police Authority to review the inquest evidence and to see what appropriate action needs to be taken to hold public servants to account.

Why did you ask your legal team to withdraw from the inquest?

The family felt that they were left with no other option. We felt the coroner’s decision to restrict the jury’s decision-making completely undermined their role to freely return whatever verdict they felt was correct based on the evidence. We could no longer participate in a process which was so clearly a whitewash.

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Jury's response to the Coroner's questionnaire

Jurors were asked and answered the following questions:

"Did firearms officer C12 shout armed police?"

NO

The police officers on the tube train all insisted that a warning was shouted before two opened fire, but passengers sitting in the carriage said they heard no warning. The jury believed the passengers and rejected the evidence of the police

"Did Mr de Menezes stand up from his seat before he was grabbed in a bear hug by officer Ivor?"

YES

"Did Mr de Menezes move towards C12 before he was grabbed in a bear hug by Ivor?"

NO

Officer C12 said that he fired fatal shots because jean stood up and moved towards a gun pointed at his head. The jury didn’t believe this evidence. They accepted that Jean had stood up, but did not believe he had moved forwards in a manner suggesting he might be about to detonate a bomb.

"Do you consider that any of the following factors caused or contributed to the death of Mr de Menezes;

a. "The pressure on police after the suicide attacks in July 2005."

CANNOT DECIDE


The Metropolitan Police have always maintained – and continue to argue – that police officers were under enormous pressure in the aftermath of the 7th July bombings and the attempted suicide attacks on 21st July 2005. Acting Commissioner Paul Stephenson said today, “July 2005 brought with it unparalleled challenges for the Met and the people of London including the unique situation where there were four failed suicide bombers on the run.” But the jury, after many days of deliberation, were unable to agree that this was a key contributory factor in Jean’s death.

b. "A failure to obtain and provide better photographic images of failed bomber Hussain Osman to surveillance officers."

YES


The jury concluded that the fact that surveillance officers watching the flats in Scotia Road had only seen a poor photo from Hussain Osman’s gym membership card, when there was a much clearer image available from his wedding day (found at the scene of the attempted bombing), was a far more important factor than the inability of officers to properly identify Jean.

c. "A failure by police to ensure that Mr de Menezes was stopped before he reached public transport."

YES


The police operation was supposed to stop anyone leaving the flats so they could be identified and checked, away from the property so as not to reveal the surveillance operation to any would-be bomber.. However, when Jean left for work, the operation was in chaos: there was no firearms teams in position to stop suspects.

d. "The general difficulty in providing identification of the man under surveillance in the time available."

NO


The surveillance officer closest to the flat, codenamed 'Frank', was apparently relieving himself as Jean left the property, leaving the officers following Jean to establish his identity. But this error was compounded because Jean was not stopped as he boarded a bus, or before entering Stockwell station. The jury clearly believed that there was more than enough time available to identify him.

e. "The innocent behaviour of Mr de Menezes increasing suspicion."

NO


This suggestion was one of the most bizarre – that by acting innocently, Jean was suspicious.

Officers claimed he was acting nervously and strangely, standing on the bus stairwell and being twitchy. When his bus reached Brixton town centre, he got off and walked towards the tube station before doubling back and getting back on another bus. However, the jury did not feel this behaviour was a factor – after all, Brixton station was closed amidst tightened security from the previous day’s incident and Jean was late for work. His supposedly ‘suspicious’ behaviour was shared by many Londoners on 22nd July 2005.

f. "The fact that the views of the surveillance officers regarding identification were not accurately communicated to the command team and firearms officers.

YES


g. "The fact that the position of the cars containing the firearms officers was not accurately known by the command team as firearms teams were approaching Stockwell Tube."

YES


h. "Shortcomings in the communications system between various police teams on the ground."

YES

i. "Failure to conclude at the time that surveillance officers could have been used to carry out the stop on Mr de Menezes at Stockwell."

YES


The jury were clearly convinced that the repeated communications failures between the surveillance team and a chaotic Operations Room was an important contributory factor. This included the descent of positive identification into little more than guesswork, the failure of DAC Cressida Dick’s instructions to stop Jean from entering Stockwel tube station to reach those on the ground and the evidence from firearms officer C12, who claimed he had heard the surveillance officers positively identify Jean over the radio, when other claimed this message had not be given.

The family believe that unbalanced briefing given to firearms officers, who were evidently ready to deliver a critical shot to any suspect suicide bomber, without being warned of the risks of uncertain identification, meant that these officers were sent into a situation where the chances of arresting a suspect as opposed to shooting them dead were almost negligible.

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