Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I would expect a major brouhaha to erupt over the next 24 hours (well, it's already started...) regarding the circumstances surrounding the shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menendez by British armed police on the 22nd July. It appears that pretty much everything we thought we "knew" about the incident may well have been... well... bollocks.

I supported the police at the time and still would were the circumstances as set out then to be accurate. However, the apparent (we still don't know) revised circumstances seem to me to make the whole issue substantially more of a grey area - at best.

The real issue though is that we now smell the rank stench of a coverup.

For a month we were led to believe he was was wearing a bulky coat that was believed (reasonably but incorrectly) to be concealment for a bomb.

He wasn't.

That he was challenged by officers emerging from a suspected-terrorist safehouse.

He wasn't.

That, upon being challenged, he ran away from them.

He didn't.

That so frantic to escape was he that he barged into an underground station, vaulting the passenger barriers to get to a train.

He walked into the station and bought a ticket the usual way, pausing to buy a newspaper as he did so.

Even if you allow that the error made by the police was within the bounds of merely tragic and not incompetent (an argument that is feasable, though not to anything like the extent it used to be), these are vast differences with the story that came out at the time and the public have been allowed to run with it for a month during which the police have variously encouraged that interpretation of events or done nothing to disabuse Joe Public of any inaccuracy. We also know that in the aftermath senior police officers, including Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, made strenuous attempts to prevent the opening of an independent inquiry.

Although all the facts are not yet in, today's revelations are certainly enough for very legitimate concern. The question rather becomes one of who knows what and for how long have they known it?

My gut instinct is that Sir Ian will be gone by Monday. More likely rightly than not.


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