The prosecution of the Metropolitan police for shooting dead an innocent Brazilian man will centre on alleged blunders by the force in planning and strategy as well as errors in the control room running the operation, it emerged yesterday.
Jean Charles de Menezes was killed on July 22 last year at Stockwell tube station, south London, after being mistaken for a terrorist. The Met has been charged under health and safety law in connection with the killing and yesterday formally entered a plea of not guilty to a charge that it failed in its duty of care to Mr De Menezes.
The short hearing at City of Westminster magistrates court heard prosecutor Mark Carroll say the crown would argue that several errors led to the mistaken shooting of Mr De Menezes.
The charge alleges the force "failed to conduct its undertaking, namely the investigation, surveillance, pursuit and detention of a suspected suicide bomber, in such a way as to ensure that the person not in its employment (namely Jean Charles de Menezes) was not thereby exposed to risks to his health or safety".
The Met could face an unlimited fine if found guilty. Yesterday, in a statement issued after the hearing, it said health and safety law was not the right way to judge police actions in an anti-terrorist operation. The shooting happened the day after an alleged attempt to bomb three tube trains and a bus in London, and a fortnight after the tube blasts in which 52 people died. The Met said the prosecution had "implications for the general public in that it concerns the ability of the police service to protect the public at large when carrying out armed operations".