Met's de Menezes photo 'manipulated', says prosecution

Claims of 'stretching or resizing'

A composite image of Jean Charles de Menezes and Hussain Osman "was manipulated so as to mislead", it was claimed at the Old Bailey today. The composite was produced by the Metropolitan Police in evidence in order to illustrate similarities between the two men, and to show that police could have difficulties distinguishing the two.

Jean Charles de Menezes was shot by Met firearms officers in July 2005 in an operation intended to trap Osman, who was then on the run after the failed 21 July bombings.

Police surveillance officers trailing de Menezes to Stockwell station had not positively identified him as Osman, but in evidence earlier this week an officer from the firearms unit, SO19, gave evidence that prior to his own arrival at the scene of the shooting he had understood the surveillance target to be Osman. "There was no doubt in my mind that this man was a suicide bomber at this time and he was in possession of a suicide device that could present a serious danger to the public and to my men," he told the court.

Today, prosecuting QC Clare Montgomery said that the image, showing half of each man's face, had been altered by "stretching or resizing so the face ceases to have its correct proportions." An alternative composite produced by forensics consultant Michael George showed the two faces with different skin tones and mouths and noses out of alignment. George told the court that the Met's composite appeared to have "greater definition" than the two images used to produce it, and that it could not have been produced simply by using PowerPoint software.

The judge, Mr Justice Henriques, told the jury: "A serious allegation has been made that a picture has been manipulated so as to mislead." The Metropolitan Police is being tried on a charge of failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The trial continues. ®

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