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Shooting report reveals glaring failures in Met's operation

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Analysis The UK Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has released the "Stockwell One" report of its investigation into the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes by armed Metropolitan Police officers in 2005.

Releasing the report, Nick Hardwick - chairman of the IPCC - made several comments to reporters, giving the IPCC's view of the matter. Until completion of the recent trial of the Met under health and safety laws, the complaints investigators could not speak freely.

"It has been suggested that the ordinary law... should not apply to the police service, and that this trial will make it more difficult for the police to catch real terrorists," said Hardwick, presumably referring to London Mayor Ken Livingstone's remarks to that effect.

Hardwick dealt with Mayor Ken's position bluntly.

"That is the wrong road," he said. "The defining feature of the police in this country is that the law applies to them individually and as a service just as it does to every other citizen and organisation. This case is not about creating a more risk-averse police service but a more coherent and effective police response."

The IPCC chief went on to set the scene.

"There are two very stark images from the now infamous CCTV coverage of Stockwell Station," he said.

"The first is of Jean Charles de Menezes entering the station, wearing light summer clothing, picking up a paper and going to get his train.

"The second, just over a minute later, shows police officers running down into the depths of the station, into what I am sure they believed was deadly peril, the first passengers... hurrying to escape in the other direction.

"Neither Mr de Menezes nor the police officers are diminished by us remembering the tragedy of one and the heroism of others on that day."

Mr Hardwick went on to say that the essential questions around Stockwell were these:

"If they thought he might have a bomb, why was he allowed twice to get on a bus and then on the tube?"

"If they thought he didn't have a bomb, why did they shoot him?"

Which seems incapable of improvement. He went on to say that the Met had suffered from multiple operational failures on the day of the shooting, which are detailed in the full report.

Hardwick also directly criticised London's top cop, Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, for his actions in the aftermath of de Menezes' death.

"The Commissioner [Blair] attempted to prevent us carrying out an investigation. In my view, much of the avoidable difficulty the Stockwell incident has caused the Metropolitan Police arose from the delay [in the IPCC being tasked]."

He also offered oblique criticism of Blair's decision not to plead guilty on behalf of the Met in the recent trial.

"To achieve public confidence... it has been necessary for the Metropolitan Police to accept that mistakes were made," he said.

"I think the defence the Metropolitan Police adopted at the health and safety trial may have created some confusion in the public mind about their willingness to do this."

However, Hardwick said that as a practical matter the Met had in fact accepted that it had cocked up, and that its officers had worked hard to do better in future.

The full report (170-page pdf) is now online. It makes interesting reading, and will be the first chance for many to get close to the facts of Stockwell without an intervening media or political agenda.

For those willing to put up with the Reg agenda, here are a few of the bits we found interesting.

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