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Monday, August 22, 2005 

Houston, we have a problem.

Three days since I last posted about the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes, and yet again, the details surrounding his death and subsequent police actions and statements get even worse.

In an interview with the News of the Screws (World, horrible Murdoch Sunday newspaper full of sleaze, adultery and right wing lunatics), Blair said that an officer came to him the day after the shooting and said the equivalent of 'Houston, we have a problem'.

'He didn't use those words but he said "We have some difficulty here, there is a lack of connection". 'I thought "That's dreadful, what are we going to do about that?".'

For one, I refuse to believe that he didn't know within hours, or even minutes of the shooting that they had killed an innocent man. They say a week is a long time in politics. The days following the July 21st attacks were like weeks in themselves. If he wasn't told by lackeys or those lower in command for over 24 hours, then he is head of either an incompetent organisation or one which was interested in covering up its own mess without informing him. Secondly, for an official to tell him that they had executed an innocent man who was not acting suspiciously but was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the phrase "we have a problem" is incredibly callous and offensive. To then repeat that to a right wing rag of the lowest denominator shows a lack of any feelings for the de Menezes family.

The Observer article goes on:

A police source said: 'There is no way those three guys would have been on the train carriage with him [de Menezes] if they believed he was carrying a bomb. Nothing he did gave the surveillance team the impression that he was carrying a device.'

The Observer can also reveal that the de Menezes family was offered £15,000 after the shooting. The ex gratia payment, which does not affect legal action by the family or compensation, is a fraction of the $1 million (£560,000) reported to have been offered the family. Police yesterday denied they had made the offer, which the family has described as 'offensive'.

Members of the firearms unit are said to be furious that de Menezes was not properly identified when he left his flat, the first problem in the chain of events that led to the Brazilian's death.

For the firearms officers involved in the death to avoid any legal action, they will have to state that they believed their lives and those of the passengers were in immediate danger. Such a view is unlikely to be supported by members of the surveillance unit.

For reasons as yet unclear, members of the firearms team have yet to submit their own account of the events to the IPCC. The two members of the team believed to have fired the fatal shots are known to have gone on holiday immediately after the shooting.

In short, the surveillance team and the firearms team are now blaming each other. Secondly, for the members of the firearms team to be allowed to go straight off on holiday instead of giving statements is another badly made decision. When you kill a man, you don't suddenly get out the country or elsewhere unless you have something to hide. They should have been taken off duty but not allowed to leave.

The amount of money offered to the de Menezes family is also an insult, especially the way in which it was conducted. The letter was in English. His parents only speak Portuguese. The offer was also put forward in Brazil without their lawyers being present. It appears almost to be an offer to shut them up. £15,000 and everything will be alright again.

Also now coming increasingly into the frame is the senior police commander in charge on the morning of July the 22nd.

De Menezes took a bus to Stockwell tube station, stopping briefly at Brixton. The surveillance operation logged his every step. An assessment was made on the basis of his demeanour: he was identified as a suspect. By whom? That is still unclear. It is also understood that the senior police officer in charge of the operation, Commander Cressida Dick, had ordered de Menezes at this stage to be detained before he went into the tube station and that he should be alive.

Apart from having a horrendously bad name, Cressida Dick needs to fully explain what she said and how she said it. What did she know and when did she know it? What made the firearms officers misinterpretret her so badly, if the official story is to be believed?

And finally:

The government yesterday entered the dispute to give Sir Ian its full backing. Asked if the prime minister had full confidence in the Met chief, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: "Yes."

John Prescott, the deputy prime minister - in charge of the government while Tony Blair is on holiday - and the home secretary, Charles Clarke, also both insisted Sir Ian, the most senior police officer in the UK, retains their full confidence.

Yep, we have full confidence in you "Sir" Ian. You told a press conference on the day in question that a terrorist suspect had been killed when you didn't know the facts. You instantly tried to stop an "independent" investigation. Your force spun what had actually happened and let the media stories go uncorrected. You let vital witnesses go away on holiday. Your force attempted to buy off the de Menezes family. There's no problem here, Houston.

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