Labour London Assembly Member and Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority Len Duvall has written to Conservative Mayoral Candidate Boris Johnson accusing him of trying to distance himself from remarks he made last week on the BBC’s World at One programme about officers involved in the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.
Interviewed on the programme Mr Johnson said:
“I think the real reason Jean Charles de Menezes got killed in the Stockwell Tube was not just because the police were too trigger happy, although I think you could argue that they were, but also because if you look at the chain of events that led to up his killing he was accompanied by several police officers throughout that morning, several surveillance officers, and at no stage did they think it worthwhile or think it possible to tap him on the shoulder and inquire who he was.”
The comments were attacked at the time by Mayor ken Livingstone who called them a “slur against people who regularly put their lives in extreme danger to protect Londoners.”
Mr Johnson defended his his record on the issue saying: “in previous radio interviews and written articles I have already said these officers were as brave as lions.” Johnson also said he had received an apology from the BBC “for cutting me off half way through the interview.”
In today’s letter Mr Duvall accuses Mr Johnson of “trying to distance yourself from your remarks and twist the context in which you made them to suggest that you were misrepresented by the BBC.”
He also accuses Johnson of “a fundamental misunderstanding of policing in the capital” adding “To deny that you made such comments instead of apologising is an insult to everyone in the Met.”
Mr Johnson says he has “absolutely no intention” of withdrawing the use of the phrase ‘trigger happy’. In a defiantly worded response to Mr Duvall he says:
“You seem to want me to withdraw the use of the word “trigger happy” in respect of the death of Jean Charles de Menezes.
I have absolutely no intention of doing so. It is hard to think of any other description of a catastrophe in which a completely innocent man ends up with seven bullets in his head.
I have made it repeatedly clear that I believe the officers involved to have been personally extremely brave.
But I remain deeply dismayed that neither you nor the Mayor nor anyone else seems willing to address the fundamental question in the minds of the London public.
If this man was thought to be a potential suicide bomber, why the hell was he allowed on two buses, and then down the Tube? Why was he allowed to put the public at progressively greater risk?
Many people believe that common sense policing would have allowed his identity to be established at a much earlier stage.”