The Crown Prosecution Service will not pressing charges against individual officers involved in the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes last July.
Officers shot Mr Menezes in the wake of last year’s London Bombings believing him to be a suicide bomber.
However the Metropolitan Police Service is to face charges with breaching health and safety laws. The CPS decision follows an investigation by the independent Police Commission.
Announcing the decision Stephen O’Doherty, senior lawyer from the CPS Special Crime Division, said “After the most careful consideration I have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against any individual police officer.”
“But I am satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the Office of Commissioner of Police for an offence under sections 3 and 33 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 of failing to provide for the health, safety and welfare of Jean Charles de Menezes on 22nd July 2005.”
Explaining the decision not to prosecute the firearms officers Mr O’Doherty said “The two officers who fired the fatal shots did so because they thought that Mr de Menezes had been identified to them as a suicide bomber and that if they did not shoot him, he would blow up the train, killing many people.”
“In order to prosecute those officers, we would have to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that they did not honestly and genuinely hold those beliefs. In fact, the evidence supports their claim that they genuinely believed that Mr de Menezes was a suicide bomber and therefore, as we cannot disprove that claim, we cannot prosecute them for murder or any other related offence.”
Responding to the CPS statement Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London said: “I am certain – and I am sure most people agree – that the MPS went to work that day under conditions of literal life and death responsibility to try to protect Londoners. I believe their actions were consistent with this.”
Attacking the CPS decision to prosecute the Met for alleged Health and Safety failures Mr Livingstone said “Health and Safety legislation was simply not drawn up to deal with policing a city facing the terrorist threat of the 7th and 21st July and it makes absolutely no sense to apply such legislation in the case of such an extreme situation.”
“I doubt that al-Qaeda will be considering the implications for health and safety legislation when they are planning their terrorist activities.”
Defending Sir Ian Blair against media attacks the Mayor said these were “is in reality directed against his efforts to create a police service which includes all of London’s communities, and as such aims to poison community relations in this city.”
A statement issued by the Metropolitan Police said “The shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes is a matter of very deep regret to the Metropolitan Police Service. As we approach the first anniversary our continued thoughts are with his family. We have apologised publicly and in private to them and we would again like to take this opportunity to say sorry for this tragedy.”
The statement says that in light of the decision to bring charges under the Health and Safety Act the force “will need to consider issues raised by this prosecution and for the implementation of the Kratos policy, which has already been the subject of extensive review since 22 July.
We believe it remains a legitimate policy and, in the absence of a viable alternative, we will continue to use it where necessary to protect London and Londoners from any threat posed by suicide bombers.”
Related Links: Opinion: Health And Safety is Why Officers Opened Fire
Opinion: Charging de Menezes Officers Would Be Wrong – 13th Jul 2006