The Stockwell shooting and the police: mistrust the rush to judgement

Despite the understandable public concern over the tragic death of a young Brazilian, Jean Charles de Menezes, victim of mistaken identity, at the hands of the Metropolitan (London) Police at London’s Stockwell tube station on 22 July, the day after the second (abortive) attempted bombings in London, it seems clear that there are no grounds whatever as of now for the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, to be called on to resign. Even his most hysterical current critics can hardly believe, or claim, that his remarks immediately after the shooting were knowingly untrue or deliberately intended to deceive. Only one point in his statement then is now seen to be probably (but not yet certainly) wrong: the statement that Mr Menezes had been challenged by the police and had failed to obey their instructions. And until we see the report of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) inquiry, we shan’t know for sure that this actually was wrong.  Other details in the first media reports that were later contradicted by the document mysteriously leaked to a commercial television news channel were not given out by the Commissioner, who has denied that they were officially released by the police at all.  Presumably they were pieced together by the media in the first confused hours and days from assertions by people claiming to have been eye-witnesses: for example, at least one ‘witness’ claimed that he had seen Menezes wearing a heavy belt from which electric wires were dangling.  There seems to be no evidence so far that any of these early reports were derived from informal off-the-record briefings by police officers, and until such evidence materialises, it is obviously quite wrong to accuse the police, still less Ian Blair personally, of having deliberately or negligently issued false information soon after the shooting.

Those who have rushed to judgement against the Commissioner and the policemen involved in this desperately sad affair perhaps need to be reminded that:

1. The alternative version of events in the leaked document is only one person’s account: we don’t yet know what other witnesses have said or will say. Why should this one account be accepted as gospel? Why was this particular version leaked, if not as part of an anti-police agenda? Was this one witness necessarily in a position to be sure that the suspect wasn’t challenged at any point? Eye-witness accounts of dramatic and fast-moving events notoriously vary widely from witness to witness, even when one or more of the witnesses is a policeman.

 2. Much has been made of the conflict between, on the one hand, media stories (however sourced) according to which Menezes was wearing a heavy padded jacket, and, on the other hand, the truth (as demonstrated by the leaked photograph of his body) that he was actually wearing an unpadded denim jacket. But the difference is essentially immaterial: he could have been concealing explosives under a denim jacket as well as under a padded coat. Wearing any kind of jacket on such a hot day could have seemed to tend to confirm police suspicions that he was one of the four failed bombers, when taken together with the other pointers (the building he came out of, his remarkable likeness to one of the 21 July suspects, making for the tube station, running onto the train, etc.), even if these have subsequently turned out to have innocent explanations or to have been of no significance.

3. It is extremely difficult to see what possible alternative there can be to the so-called ’shoot to kill’ policy as applied to suspected suicide bombers. If there are real grounds for believing that a person may be about to blow up a group of innocent civilians (as well as him- or herself) by pressing a button on a bomb-belt concealed under outer clothing, even an attempt to pinion the suspect — as one of the policemen apparently did, according to his leaked account — risks setting off the explosion: and shooting at any part of the suspect lower than his/her head carries a wholly unacceptable risk of either detonating the explosives by impact of the bullet, or leaving the suspect wounded but not dead and therefore able immediately to press the fatal button. The inescapable logic is that in such a situation a shot or shots to the head must be the only sure way to pre-empt the explosion. The policy setting this out has apparently been approved at high political level and by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).  It is an operational matter which, contrary to much media and blog comment, cannot and should not be determined by public opinion as expressed in the letters columns of the heavies or the populist editorials of the Sun. Such policies must be for professional decision, subject to political approval, not for decision by opinion poll.  ACPO confirms that it is reviewing the policy in the light of the Stockwell tragedy, but clearly without much confidence that any better policy can be devised.  

4. Ian Blair was well within his rights in initially resisting the transfer of the investigation from the police to the IPCC, and he has in no way sought to “cover up” the fact that he did so (as he has said, writing a letter to the Permanent Secretary of the Home Office and copying it to the Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority, the body that monitors and supervises the Metropolitan Police, and the Chairman of the IPCC would be a very odd way to cover anything up). At a time when it still seemed perfectly possible that the dead man had in fact been involved in terrorism, with the police investigation of the bomb attempts of 21 July at its peak of activity, and the imperative need to maintain the complete secrecy of how that investigation was proceeding and what leads it was pursuing, Ian Blair was arguably perfectly justified in resisting an immediate transfer of this important part of the investigation to an outside body whose own enquiries were bound to distract the anti-terrorism police from their primary task (catching the 21 July failed bombers and pre-empting a further terrorist attack). Moreover he apparently didn’t trust the IPCC to maintain proper security in handling such highly sensitive information, and the prompt (and disastrous) leak of a key document and photograph, apparently by a member of the IPCC staff, seems to indicate that his lack of trust could prove to have been well founded. 

5. We need to be seriously concerned about the implications of this shrill and premature campaign against the Metropolitan Police and its chief for the morale of the police involved in combating terrorism, and in particular for the readiness of an armed policeman to shoot on a future occasion when that might be the only way to prevent a further terrorist attack involving numerous civilian deaths. To act in that way demands real courage: it involves getting very close to someone who you reasonably believe may be about to kill you, and who is quite likely to do so before you can stop him (or her). It involves accepting the real risk that if your suspicions turn out to be mistaken, you might end up on a murder charge — or at best as the object of popular vilification. The current campaign has hugely aggravated those risks.  It must have made it extremely unlikely that any individual policeman would take such risks in the future.  If similar circumstances occur again, and if next time the suspect really is a bomber, I just hope that I’m not one of the passengers on the train.

            Sir Ian Blair

The Guardian editorial of 20 August 2005 has got it right (apart from an unbalanced headline).  We ask an awful lot of our policemen, and none of us has the right to condemn them out of hand long before we know the full facts or the results of the official independent inquiry. If anyone has the right to the benefit of the doubt until the facts are known, it’s surely the policeman entrusted by our society with both a gun and the awesome responsibility of having to decide in a split second whether to use it. 

(In case you have a feeling of déjà vu when reading this, you could be right: most of it was originally posted as a comment on an item about the Stockwell shooting on Owen Barder’s blog.  I have transferred it here in agreement with him, with a trackback to his post.) 



27 Responses

  1. Brian,
    One feature your balanced observations leave out is the as yet unchallenged statement in the pathologist’s report on Menezes’ death. The information about what he was up to before he was shot in the report could only have been provided by the Metropolitan Police. The pathologist states in terms that, not only did M leap over the barrier, but also he was running away from the police or army officers or whoever at the time. It seems inconceivable that the Police gave such information without taking detailed statements from those involved. Especially those professional witnesses present at the scene-the officers themselves. The leaks from the IPPC cast grave doubt on the version of events contained in this section of the pathologist’s report. It does not appear to have been an interim report. It would have seen the light of day in any civil or criminal proceedings, and certainly at the inquest in to the cause of M’s death. Any advocate would have a field day exploring the source of the information bearing in mind the likely issues involved!

    Much of what appeared in the media at the time of the incident was probably given to journalists in off the record briefings. It’s daft for them now to complain they were gulled, but nonetheless some blame for those briefings must fall on the shoulders of those who knew or ought to have known what the briefers were up to. It’s not good enough to shrug the shoulders with a concurrent “not me guv”, I’m afraid. I suspect journalists will be less willing in future to accept the veracity such briefings.

    I am also somewhat troubled by the way leaking, probably from the Home Office, attempted to rubbish Menezes as a dodgy immigration case in the days following his unfortunate death.

    It still beggars belief, as Tim Hames wrote in the Times

    Why was someone whom the police continue to insist was a “potential suicide-bomber” no menace on the No 2 bus, but an urgent threat who had to be taken out when moving in the direction of the Northern Line?”


  2. Brian says:


    These are serious points. But I don’t know what basis you have for saying that accounts of the pathologist’s report could only have come from the police. They could for instance surely have come from the IPCC (which seems to have been the likeliest source for the document leaked to Channel 4) or from anyone in the pathologist’s office who saw the chance of a quick buck by selling it to the media. Is there any way of knowing, in any case, whether these stories are accurate and that the pathologist’s report actually included these descriptions of what Menezes had been doing before boarding the tube train? On the face of it such fine details would be irrelevant to a pathologist’s report. Perhaps the pathologist found evidence that Menezes had been out of breath at the time when he was shot, and sought to explain how this seemed to have come about: but there’s no dispute, surely, that Menezes ran onto the train, and the pathologist wouldn’t need to specify exactly how he got over or through the ticket barrier in order to explain an out-of-breath condition. (Moreover can you be sure that Menezes didn’t jump over the barrier? We have only the word of the author of the leaked document that he used his ticket or travel pass to go through it: we don’t yet know what other witnesses say on the point. A document isn’t necessarily reliable or accurate just because it has been leaked.)

    I suggest too that you build an awful lot on the assumption that the disputed accounts (contradicted in some respects by the leaked document) were “probably” based on off-the-record briefings by the Metropolitan Police. You will have heard Sir Ian Blair’s interview broadcast this morning on Radio 4 (and still available online at — click on ‘Talking Politics’) in which he denies quite categorically that these stories came from the police, and points out that the media claimed to have got them from people claiming to have been eye-witnesses. That seems at least as ‘probable’ as that the police gave deliberately misleading briefings to the media when it would have been obvious to them that their misstatements would soon be exposed, and the police sources with them. Moreover Sir I Blair would be unlikely to deny so emphatically that the police had been the media’s source if there was any danger of the journalists concerned contradicting him with names and other corroboration.

    Why did the surveillance team allow Menezes to make his bus journey without intervening, yet take such drastic action to stop him setting off the presumed bomb on the tube? I have three problems with this FAQ. First, the obvious explanation seems to be that it was only after M got off the bus that Gold Commander (silly title) decided that the evidence was strong enough for her to give the order that M was to be prevented from entering the tube system — an order which proved impossible to obey, as we know. Secondly, it could well have been M’s action in breaking into a run to get on the tube that precipitated the police officers’ decision to act in the only way available to pre-empt the detonation of the presumed bomb. Thirdly, what is the question meant to imply? That the police killed M just for the fun of it? I’m afraid that it’s just another little attempt to find inconsistencies in the behaviour of the police in order to hint at some kind of conspiracy or other criminal activity on the part of the Met, when so far at least there seems not a shred of evidence for such a suspicion.

    Let’s wait for the report!


  3. Brian says:

    PS: On re-reading your (Tony’s) comment and my reply, I see that I have misread your point about the source of the information allegedly incorporated in the pathologist’s report. But I remain unconvinced that it must necessarily have been the police who supplied the information to the pathologist. It seems to me just as likely that the pathologist was quoting reports in the media purporting to have been provided by eye witnesses. And, as I say, it looks pretty odd that a pathologist would go into this kind of irrelevant detail anyway: the pathologist is not the coroner. The remainder of my reply (see above) is still, I think, applicable.

    Sorry about the misreading, though.


  4. Chris Williams says:

    Blair’s attempt to shelve an IPCC investigation casts him in a very bad light. He has also made at least one highly misleading statement about it. The BBC online have him saying this:

    “Secondly, the IPCC has a duty – which I respect – to inform the family of everything they find and this is an investigation that involves secret intelligence,” he added.”

    Meanwhile, back the real world, the IPCC’s duty to disclose is neither comprehensive nor absolute – in fact it’s hedged about with any number of restrictions that the Secretary of State can put on it. Here’s the text of the law (2002 c.30 s.20):

    “(4) The matters of which the complainant must be kept properly informed are-
    (a) the progress of the investigation;
    (b) any provisional findings of the person carrying out the investigation;
    (c) whether any report has been submitted under paragraph 22 of Schedule 3;
    (d) the action (if any) that is taken in respect of the matters dealt with in any such report; and
    (e) the outcome of any such action.

    (5) The duties imposed by this section on the Commission and the appropriate authority in relation to any complaint shall be performed in such manner, and shall have effect subject to such exceptions, as may be provided for by regulations made by the Secretary of State.

    (6) The Secretary of State shall not by regulations provide for any exceptions from the duties imposed by this section except so far as he considers it necessary to do so for the purpose of-
    (a) preventing the premature or inappropriate disclosure of information that is relevant to, or may be used in, any actual or prospective criminal proceedings;
    (b) preventing the disclosure of information in any circumstances in which it has been determined in accordance with the regulations that its non-disclosure-
    (i) is in the interests of national security;
    (ii) is for the purposes of the prevention or detection of crime, or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders;
    (iii) is required on proportionality grounds; or
    (iv) is otherwise necessary in the public interest.

    (7) The non-disclosure of information is required on proportionality grounds if its disclosure would cause, directly or indirectly, an adverse effect which would be disproportionate to the benefits arising from its disclosure.”

    Blair was wrong to say what he did about the nature of the IPCC’s investigation. He was also wrong to attempt to resist the investigation. These are the reasons why he should resign.

    To my mind more important, but far less clear-cut, is his attitude in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, when it was clear that de Menezes was not a terrorist. Rather than say ‘This is an unacceptable screw-up and won’t happen again’ he said that the policy wouldn’t change and we could expect more of the same.

    On the other hand, we also need to bear in mind A. Blair’s own turbulent priest momement (“The rules are changing”) and John “We’re all Doomed!” Stevens rolling over when SO19 had a hissy fit about being accountable for what they did. I. Blair’s not the only one to emerge tarnished from this affair.

    Brian comments: This is a helpful reminder of the legal position, for which thank you. But I don’t think it undermines or contradicts Sir Ian Blair’s argument that once the inquiry had been transferred (despite his justifiable misgivings) from the Met to the IPCC, the police were debarred from issuing further information about the events in question, since this was now up to the IPCC. True, the Home Secretary could have made an exception to this legal ban on continued public statements by the police, but it’s inconceivable, to my mind, that he would have done so, since the IPCC would obviously have objected strenuously to any such exemption, not only for reasons of amour propre (although that would have been part of it!), but also for fear that further police interventions in the public debate would only complicate their own investigations and their need to control — as far as possible — the extent of public disclosure of evidence before the IPCC had had a chance to weigh it, assess it, pursue its possible leads, and pronounce a verdict on it. In other words, Ian Blair was correct in saying that after the transfer of the investigation, the Met was legally debarred from making further information publicly available; you are correct in saying that the Home Secretary could have made a legal exemption to permit the Met to continue to publish information; and I am correct, I hope, in pointing out that the Home Secretary didn’t in fact create such an exemption and would have been most unlikely to do so. (Some commentators have accused Sir I Blair of inconsistency in claiming to be legally barred from making further comments while himself continuing to give radio and newspaper interviews on the issue: but so far as I can see, he has confined these media contributions to the defence of his own actions and to answering the FAQ “what did he know and when did he know it?”, without attempting to put into the public arena new factual information bearing on the events leading up to the death of Mr de Menezes. I think it was right, proper and lawful for him to act in this way.)

    Brian, 23 Aug 05

  5. Aidan says:


    In point 3. you seem to be suggesting that either we operate a shoot-to-kill policy or not. Surely the real debate is the circumstances in which officers are permitted to fire – the ‘rules of engagement’. If the shooting of M was within guidelines, then any young, non-white male who lives in the same block of flats as a suspect, and who uses the tube station can be shot without challenge or further evidence.

    I don’t think that’s acceptable – in that you are likely to lose more innocent lives than you save. One of the few things we do know at this point is that this policy has taken one life and saved none.

    I think we have to wait for the inquiry before making any definitive judgements on why the armed response team believed that it was necessary to kill him. Currently my main concern is that if the guidelines are for the armed team to shoot at the slightest provocation, then why were they ordered to carry out the ‘hard stop’? Given such a procedure would be more likely than not to result in the death of the target (even if innocent), it should only have been ordered if the target had been identified with reasonable certainty as a bomber.

  6. Brian says:


    These are all very reasonable concerns that we all share. But I don’t think it was necessarily quite as casual as you suggest. Menezes does seem to have had a strong physical resemblance to one of the failed bombers of the previous day, and the combination of circumstances appears to have convinced Cressida Dick, ‘Gold Commander’ at the time, that there was enough suspicion that ‘the suspect’ was indeed probably one of the 21 July would-be bombers to justify ordering that he should not be allowed onto the tube system. Whether in saying that she meant also to order that if he did get onto a tube train, he should be killed before he could detonate a bomb, we probably shan’t know until we see the IPCC report, but it looks as if that was how the team (or some of its members) interpreted whatever she had said.

    Of course you are right to say that if an innocent man can be killed by the police on such flimsy suspicion, then almost any of us is at risk every time we use public transport. But the converse is also true: if similar circumstances were to arise again, with the police strongly suspecting that someone about to board a tube is intending to explode a bomb, but not sufficiently sure about their suspicions to feel justified in shooting him, and the suspect then blows himself up and takes 30 or 40 innocent passengers with him, plus the police surveillance team, wouldn’t the team then be blamed for their failure to grasp the nettle, kill the suspect, and risk finding afterwards that he was an innocent man? Because of the vitriolic (the Guardian’s word, not just mine) campaign of vilification of the Met generally and the Commissioner in particular as a result of the Menezes tragedy, it’s now highly unlikely that any police officer is going to take the risk of shooting an innocent man again, however cogent the suspicion of him. As a frequent traveller by public transport in London, I view that prospect with more concern than I do the much more remote risk of being taken for a suicide bomber.

    The truth must be that there are terrible risks either way. The police are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Do you think there would have been this storm of criticism of the police if Menezes had turned out to be a suicide bomber intent on making a second attempt, and the police had saved dozens of lives by shooting him before he could detonate the bomb? Can any of us really put our hands on our hearts and say that the police had no reasonable justification for making the split-second choice that they did, just because it turned out to be wrong?


  7. Andrew Milner says:

    Hard to write something original on the murder of Mr. de Menezes. Did you notice the blood all over the carriage seat and floor in the enhanced version of the ITN News photo? So much for being shot on the carriage floor. Presumably the head was cropped because seeing brains all over an Underground carriage would gross out most people.
    The aftermath of the Stockwell shooting was definitely not part of the plan, but that’s because a racially insensitive death squad shot the wrong type of victim. Had it been a Muslim and/or the unfashionable type of Asian, the frame up would have gone like clockwork. But shooting a Catholic; talk about tits up. And those witnesses: Part of the surveillance team or what? When they spoke to reporters they still believed the operation was on track. However, Stockwell did function as a distraction from the 7 July bombings. Hardly surprising that Charles Clarke and Tony Blair are wholeheartly supporting Ian Blair. Sir Ian needs to be kept on-side as presumably he knows where the bodies are buried.
    So here’s the psy-ops solution. Regain the initiative and public support by having a couple of cops killed, preferably by “terrorists”. This could involve simply putting them in harm’s way, or the spooks might get a little more hands on. Huge outpouring of public sympathy, marginalize the de Menezes protest, and give the “we a fighting a ruthless enemy” line far more credence. But why not go one better? You want to watch your back Sir Ian. If the government is prepared to murder some 57 of its own citizens to gain political advantage, what’s a couple of cops more or less? It’s the greater good that’s the issue. Sure they’d understand. The downside is that if the rank and file plods got a sniff of conspiracy or assignation of some of their own, they’ll down tools.
    Monstrous? Of course it is, but that’s hardly the point. Is it doable? Where there’s the will the means will present themselves. Perhaps authority will keep a lid on things this time, but the Russian revolution had a couple of dry runs. However, revolution plays hell with real estate values, the stock market and foreign exchange rates. Imagine the economic consequences of Bush and Blair and the rest of the gang being led away in handcuffs. All our pensions down the drain. Nice, neutral Buddhist country anyone?

  8. Brian,
    You say

    But I remain unconvinced that it must necessarily have been the police who supplied the information to the pathologist. It seems to me just as likely that the pathologist was quoting reports in the media purporting to have been provided by eye witnesses. And, as I say, it looks pretty odd that a pathologist would go into this kind of irrelevant detail anyway: the pathologist is not the coroner.

    De Menezes death, like all deaths in police custody, must be reported to H.M Coroner. And yes, the definition of police custody is wide enough to cover this death. The coroner is in charge of the whole process. The coroner’s officer would be provided, as a matter of course, with any information relevant to the post mortem. That would include any statements in the Met’s possession. It is inconcievable that the pathologist- more likely pathologists one from the Home Office and one representing the Met- would rely on information culled from the media or even the IPCC.
    I’ve seen dozens of these reports. They usually contain some scene-setting detail. There must therefore have been a statement in the police’s possession containing the dubious information.
    Where does that take us?

  9. Brian says:


    Did you really mean to write –

    If the government is prepared to murder some 57 of its own citizens to gain political advantage, what’s a couple of cops more or less?

    I assume that this is a purely rhetorical question posing an obviously fanciful hypothesis: or do you genuinely believe that the government arranged the killings on 7 July?


  10. John Miles says:

    What puzzles me is this: if the surveillance team thought Mr Mernezes was a suicide bomber why did they allow him to enter a station, and actually board a train?

  11. Andrew Milner at least demonstrates the concentration span and political memory to draw attention to the unanswered questions surrounding the 7/7 bombing episode.

    The “official”, if there ever was one, version of this event was struggling to make any sense.
    The bits of “information” did not fit together.
    The Leeds gents just could not be “sold” as suicide bombers.
    A non suicide plot was even trickier to believe.
    The “mastermind” theory died a death.
    Where did that bomb factory go?
    The explosives “exibit” revealed in the US media but distanced in the British press is still allusive.
    Looked like a hollywood prop department item to me.
    Weren`t those X-ray photographs sensational.
    Despite intensive CTV only two stills have been viewed in the press.
    These gents had reasonable to good prospects and young children.
    No motive, no message, famalies and friends dumbfounded.
    To believe these young men were fanatical bombers requires abandonment of rational thought.
    I remain completly unconvinced.
    How easy it is to suspend the critical thinking of a society with a bit of hype and fear.
    Andrew points out the obvious that the “flour bomb” attack and the Menenez assasination has rendered the unresolved 7/7 event ancient history. Now that is convenient!
    Don`t look here , look over there.
    Could the 7/7 information be as mischevious as the Menenez original story.

    Who will concentrate long and hard enough to discover the truth?

    Come on Brian Barder, you look like you have the resume and the contacts.

  12. Brian says:


    You write:

    Who will concentrate long and hard enough to discover the truth?

    Let’s hope that the answer to that will turn out to be “the Independent Police Complaints Commission”, currently conducting the sole investigation with access to all the available evidence.

    The answers which you imply ought to be given to most of your other questions would make sense only if there has been a gigantic conspiracy involving dozens, perhaps hundreds, of officials and private citizens, all of them unaccountably willing to suspend their ordinary ethical principles and to participate in an elaborate multiple fraud, for no conceivable purpose and with no conceivable justification other than to perpetuate an atmosphere of fear in Britain designed to gain public acquiescence in new oppressive powers for the executive and the intelligence and security services. To harbour this suspicion, you have to believe that not a single person among the vast crowd of conscripted co-conspirators will ever be tempted to blow the gaff on the whole evil scam by revealing the truth, despite the huge moral and financial rewards likely to result from doing so. And anyway, there’s no need to embark on a vast conspiracy of this kind, involving mass killings of innocent citizens by their own government, when there are plenty of fundamentalist Islamic terrorist attacks on western and other countries to keep alive a climate of fear: no need at all to take the giant risks of faking a terrorist attack when there are real live terrorists out there to lay on the real thing for you! Or do you think that every apparently Islamic-extremist outrage in every country from well before 9/11, including 9/11, and after 9/11, has been part of the same inter-governmental conspiracy?

    I suggest that in your spare time you might care to read, if you haven’t already read it, G K Chesterton’s satirical novel, ‘The Man Who Was Thursday‘, in which every single member of an anarchist council master-minding bomb attacks on the commanding heights of the Establishment turns out to be a mole planted and managed by the security service. It’s good stuff. But bear in mind that it’s fiction.


  13. The IPCC investigation is not investigating the 7/7 events or the 21/7 events.

    Your suggestion that an independent investigation of the Bombing episodes is satisfied by pointing towards this enquiry is exactly the allusion before the public.

    It may well be that this controversy is successful in exhausting the public interest in the puzzles that clearly have not been resolved surrounding the bombing events.
    I suspect it will, I hope it will not.

    It is not so, that manufactured terror requires a huge cast of participants though the fabricated WMD and terror themes that justified the invasion of Iraq reveal their are no shortage of assistants to lies and deception in the halls of power and their agencies.

    Magicians disappear locomotives and elephants before a live audience by clever distraction and basic means.

    The human mind is vulnerable to bold allusion because most never contemplate such deception could be possible or attempted.

    The leeds gents were certainly organised to appear for the CCTV as we have been shown but their real activity may have been achieved by any number of ruses.

    Just for example, for the purpose of speculation, they had been led to believe they were involved in a secret, but well paid, test of the security system by transporting a dummy bomb.

    This could be arranged by a very small team. One or two people who set up the sting and organise the bomb “evidence” in the car.

    Bingo, you have a Muslim terror attack.

    The stream of hyped terror threats and ‘cells’ that regularly achieve sensational headlines but evaporate on examination demonstrate the self serving imaginative complicity of the intelligence sector,the media and our political oportunists.

    I could imagine a number of potential simple deceptions that could achieve the same end result.

    It depends on the public not thinking or questioning to deeply and the tricky facts must be managed by a few assistants in the media always ready to sing their chorus of ridicule against genuine and valid conspiracy fact by including such comment in the same breath as flying saucer theories and crop circle discoveries.

    This is standard practise for managing public interest in knowledge that threatens the strategies and tools of the powerful.

    G.K Chesterton may be writing fiction but the German trial attempting to ban the NPD reveals the possible nature of our governments “enemies” and how their extreme behaviour can be and is manufactured.
    If you are not familiar with this glimpse of the dark side of intelligence many interesting articles can be found on the web that reveal further details of this murky episode.

    Yes Brian, I am very skeptical of the “official” war on terror theme. Having studied the available information from all sources I fail to see how anyone could not be at the very least suspicious. I am more than just suspicious, I am convinced that much of the spectre of terror is sophisticated propaganda.

    We need judicial process to see if we can find the truth.

  14. Christopher,

    We need judicial process to see if we can find the truth.

    I wonder what you make of this then?

  15. Chris Williams says:

    Thanks for your response, Brian. I think that you’ve misunderstood what I was saying – I was talking only about the statutory _obligation_ of the IPCC to release information to relatives, and the fact that Blair either doesn’t understand it, or was consciously misrepresenting it.

    I actually agree that once the IPCC stepped in, the Met should make no further announcements at all about what happened. This had the effect of leaving the distorted picture – derived from eyewitness and other accounts which the Met didn’t contradict when they could have done – place (and thus having a clear effect on the policy-making process, probably for months). Good call to the leaker – they have made the public’s understanding of what happened far clearer, and demonstrated a fine attachement to British-style values. Given the chance, I’d buy them a number of rounds of drinks.

    The exemptions I referred to above are limits, not enablers – I don’t think that the Home Secretary has the statutory right to release information into the IPCC investigation, although he might be able to get away with it if he did it in the Commons.

    Note also that after their inquiry started, the IPCC were driven to issue an unpresecendented statement condemning the people who leaked de Menezes’ immigration status. Someone (not necessarily the Met, more likely IND in the Home Office) was continuing to leak even though the inquiry was ongoing.

    Blair must go not because of what happened in Stockwell, but because he’s demonstrably tried to block the working of the IPCC, the keystone in our system of police accountability, such as it is. Even Ronnie Flanagan never tried this on on Nuala O’Loan, as far as I know.

    Of course, once we find out what happened in Stockwell, we might find that Blair must go in any case, but we’ll have to wait and see about that.

  16. Brian says:


    Thanks for the clarification (and the further comments and information). I think the only significant difference between us may be that (unlike you) I have some sympathy with Ian Blair’s initial reluctance to hand the investigation over to the IPCC, because he feared (1) that the IPCC might publicly reveal information whose secrecy was vital to the continuing police investigation of the 7/7 and 21/7 (7/21?) bomb events (as indeed promptly happened with the leak, whatever its effects), and (2) that the IPCC’s concentration on the Stockwell tube affair would divert essential police time and effort from the 7/7 and 21/7 investigations which on any sober reckoning are of far greater importance for our security. He may also have believed that it would be damaging to both investigations (into Stockwell, and the two bomb events) to separate them from each other, since much of the intelligence on one must also be highly germane to the other. All these concerns strike me as both reasonable and proper. None seems to me grounds for his resignation.

    However, I entirely agree with you that “once we find out what happened in Stockwell, we might find that Blair must go in any case, but we’ll have to wait and see about that.” I am fully prepared for such an outcome, which wouldn’t surprise me at all. I just feel that some of the allegations currently being thrown so enthusiastically at the Met generally, and Ian Blair in particular, are both unreasonable and premature. We should reserve judgement: and (I would add) in the meantime we should give the cops the benefit of the doubt.


  17. Brian,
    I was hopeful you might engage your mind and experience on the points I raised.
    There are many legitimate questions that render the “Muslim conspiracy theory” unproven.

    The flow of contradictory information and false statements should be of concern. There are clear episodes where the public have been misled.

    The NPD banning attempt in Germany is more interesting the closer it is analysed.
    This is evidence of conspiracy fact. A government, or members of a government, conspiring to manufacture crime and blame it on a group seen as a threat to itself by infiltration. This is a rare glimpse of a dirty bussiness.

    Without presenting a tedious diatribe I presume you are aware that many of the Bin Laden video tapes and audio material has been discredited under scrutiny.
    None of it has been examined before a court.

    I have engaged a number of my political reps in Australia on my questions surrounding the whole Orwellian spectre of “terror” and find most are very aware that the “official” story is not accurate.

    I have sought discussion with journalists to discover what they are thinking and the majority accept that the facts and the story do not fit together, though when you read and listen to their public performance, you would never guess.
    The standard theme is always adhered to strictly.

    So Brian, I find myself here searching for men of character and intellect to assist me in thinking through the unanswered questions for I have no desire to go where these liars and war promoters wish to take my country and family.

    It seems the secrecy around the investigations is leaky.
    Perhaps it is more a case of managing the critics by exhausting and confusing the concentration of the thinking minority, that wisely do not trust “Power”.

    The new revelations that place Hussain in a Big Mac and ascribe “agitated” attempts to contact his friends leaves many possible explanations. The true record of this material would indeed be of great interest.

    Media discussion suggests that the judicial process may be a very long way off and conducted under “secrecy”.

    Hopeful Christopher

  18. Brian says:


    I don’t think it’s surprising that there are inconsistencies and elements that are hard to explain in the limited volume of facts and statements so far made public by one means or another. Nor do I think that these confusions and errors necessarily point to a conspiracy, or even to a deliberate attempt by the government, or the police, or any other authority, to deceive us. As between cock-ups and conspiracies, I regard cock-ups as inherently much likelier unless there’s very compelling evidence to the contrary. And in my book, rule 1 is to work on the likeliest assumptions unless and until they are shown to be mistaken.

    Let’s wait for the IPCC report before we rush into a jungle of suspicions and accusations of a giant conspiracy — even though that might entail rather a long wait (as alarmingly documented in a post in the Talk Politics blog).


  19. Andrew Milner says:

    Imagine the “stick” that British police are getting following the Stockwell shooting:
    – Don’t shoot, I’m not armed/Irish/Brazilian/bin Laden/Ken Livingstone.
    – Let me make it easy for you, I’ll turn round.
    – Shot any unarmed civilians recently?
    – All coppers are murdering bastards.
    – You’ll never take me alive, copper.
    – Tell me, do I still have a right to remain silent?
    – How do I join, I’ve always wanted to kill someone.
    – Go ahead punk, make my day.
    – Too stupid for the Post Office, too violent for the Prison Service

    Grossly unfair to all those decent Plods (you what?) up and down the country, but shows how relations between public and police will never be the same.
    Just after the Stockwell shooting, I was stopped by a couple of Japanese cops while driving No.1 wife home. I threw up my hands and we all had a good laugh. But illustrates Stockwell has gone round the world and back again. Guns are part of the police uniform in Japan, but they rarely shoot themselves in the foot.

  20. Brian says:


    As long as we permit those who maintain law and order in our society on our behalf to use force when necessary, either to protect innocent people or in self-defence (or both), mistakes are sometimes going to be made and innocent people will sometimes be killed. Stockwell isn’t by any means the first time that British police have shot and killed innocent people in the mistaken belief that they posed an immediate threat — remember the man who was shot when he seemed to be pointing a shot-gun at the police and it turned out to be a chair-leg in a bag? There are many other cases too, although far fewer than in most other comparable countries.

    The implication of much comment on the Stockwell affair is that the police should never pull the trigger unless they are 100 per cent certain that their target genuinely poses an immediate life-and-death threat. In practice, and especially in the case of suspected suicide bombers, this would mean effectively disarming our policemen and giving carte blanche to homicidal criminals. Just supposing that the unfortunate Mr de Menezes really had been a suicide bomber: how do you suggest that the surveillance team could have verified his murderous capacity and intentions without giving him the two seconds that are all he would have needed to press the button? Exactly what action do you (and other critics) suggest they could and should have taken which they failed to take?

    To repeat: as long as our police are entrusted with the responsibility of protecting us and using force when necessary in order to do so, innocent people will sometimes be killed or wounded by mistake. To complain about that inescapable risk (especially in the new era of the suicide bomber) is to refuse to face an unpleasant reality: it is “grossly unfair to all those decent Plods … up and down the country” (your own words): and in the end it’s simply squeamish. I was going to write ‘wimpish’, but I won’t.


  21. Brian,

    The problem with your apologetics is that Menezes did not behave in the slightest way to justify his slaughter.

    Incompetence is always an easy arguement to avoid the very uncomfortable facts that point towards criminal behaviour of those in power.

    If it was believed that he was a threat he would not have been allowed on the first bus.

    He was not wearing bulky clothes. He carried no bag.

    He had, so we are told, been considered not dangerous by earlier police observers.

    Why was he not simply detained?

    Would the surveilance officer have grabed him if he thought he was a “bomb”.

    There is much to this episode yet to be revealed.
    It will never be revealed unless citizens act against the
    circus of leaks and disinformation.

    Brian, you expressed alarm at the possible time frame of this investigation. Who does this serve? Is it just?

    The point of “alarms” is to wake us up and stir us to action.

  22. Brian says:


    I think you hit the nail on the head, to coin a meaningless cliché, when you say: “There is much to this episode yet to be revealed.” Let’s all wait until it is.


  23. Brian, have we the luxury of time?

    I do not believe so.

    Soon it will be illegal to question or be critical
    of government and it`s agencies!

    The “process” is a strategy to exhaust the public interest and relevance of the event.

    Some people still are bewildered by the National Socialist conquest of civilised 1930`s Germany. How did it all happen without the public confronting the dangerous concentration of power and erosion of liberty.
    By employing the gradual tactic the public accepts one tiny loss of fredom after another, one little lie after another.
    At no point did alarm bells ring across the public consciousness which was massaged by propaganda first and then brute fear when necasary.

    So Brian, when will you know your country and fellow Brits are in danger of tyranny.

    How far do you employ apologetics before you decide that truth and honesty are not negotiable.

  24. Andrew Milner says:

    Brian: I appreciate you playing Devil’s Advocate, because it is helping me “raise my game”. However, the automatic gainsay of any and all submitted opinion is somewhat counterproductive. If you sincerely believe the opinion you express, fine. But if it’s simply for the sake of argument; well I can get this at home.

    How could I have been so blind? So stupid so as not to see the obvious? I haven’t even got the excuse that I’m resident in the UK and was deceived by mainstream media, i.e. wall-to-wall government propaganda.
    JC de Menezes was mistaken for Hussain Osman, one of the supposed 21/7 hoax bombers. As the police deception unravelled, it’s clear that there was nothing about JC’s behaviour or appearance that drew suspicion. The fact that surveillance tapes are unavailable speaks volumes. Perhaps Osman and JC do look similar (if you’re colour blind), so instead of saying JC was killed because he knew too much, we should be thinking, there was no way the authorities wanted Osman singing his little heart out to the inquisitors. So what operational detail was so important that it had to be kept secret? Well, perhaps that 7//7 and 21/7 were false flag operations. Osman is in clear and present danger of falling down one flight of stairs too many. When he gets back to Britain, his life won’t be worth a moment’s purchase. Sure, murder was on the mind of the police (military) hit squad; they just got the target wrong. Comb hair to centre parting, felt tip on Hitler moustache: “Why am I surrounded by fools and lunatics?” Looks like the UK Gestapo screwed up big time. Start from this obvious premise and eliminate the impossible. Can anyone pick up the ball and run with it?
    However for those with the vision to see the bigger picture and discern the type of country they are now living in, alarm bells should be ringing. Dust off your exit strategy. Wonder how you get an Icelandic passport, short of being a former chess champion and spending nine months in a Japanese detention centre.

  25. Andrew, Nick is doing some thinking.

    I agree with Brian that we need to get all the evidence in before we jump to firm assumptions, but hypothesis is not unreasonable in thinking through the possibilities.

    There is every reason to be troubled and suspicious of the muddled media nonsense that Nick describes.

    Is this the accidental and incompetent, or is it the footprints of darker crimes.

    I for one will not be patiently waiting for years to be presented justifications for policies already mooted for urgent passage.

  26. Andrew Milner says:

    That Stockwell shooting story just never goes away, does it?
    An argument used by apologists for the Metropolitan Police is that if Mr. Menezes hadn’t been in the UK he wouldn’t have been shot at Stockwell Station. They try to link this with an expired visa, but even if true, this really is an assumption too far.
    So the one sure way to avoid the risk of being shot by British police is to stay out of range, essentially not set foot in the UK. Guess I got the jump on you there, guys. And naturally this extends to all areas where British forces are stationed. But this is like expelling the law-abiding citizens while leaving the criminals in the UK. Considering the citizen (subject) to police officer ratio, say 100,000:1, seems more reasonable that the police should leave the country. Iraq would be the perfect destination: They could waste as many civilians as they like and no one would bat an eyelid.
    In view of the SAS trainers’ comments on members of police firearms units, the risk is greater than you might suppose.
    – “When the tension starts to rise and the adrenaline is flowing, the ‘red mist’ seems to descend on armed police officers who become very trigger-happy:”
    – “We thought that police firearms officers were far more concerned with their personal image, dressing in body armour and looking ‘gung ho’, rather than their professional capabilities. I’m not surprised at the number of mistakes over the years.
    – “There is no assessment of physical fitness, no psychological profiling, nothing. It’s a major problem.” The first question asked was “have you killed anyone?
    So there’s you go. As a non-firearms country, Brits. never grew up with guns, and as a result are too immature to be trusted with them. Contrast this with the US. When there last November, I “topped up” by putting several 100 bullets down the range, simply displaying a driving licence. In the UK I’d be looking at three-to-five at Her Majesty’s pleasure. When the police came to practice at Bisley they were literally laughed off the range. Besides being very poor shots, their safety procedure discipline was virtually non-existent.