The decision of the Crown Prosecution Service to charge the Metropolitan Police Service under the Health and Safety at Work Act in the wake of the death of Jean Charles de Menezes is a mockery of justice – but for the reasons many pundits claim.
In 2003 the then Met Commissioner John Stevens and his predecessor Lord Condon were prosecuted by the HSE after an officer died and another seriously injured in the pursuit of suspects.
The old Bailey jury cleared the pair but not before the case had cost the taxpayer millions and the Judge condemned the decision to prosecute.
Sadly lessons haven’t been learnt so once again taxpayers will look on in puzzlement as vast amounts of their money are spent as one public body attempts to build a case against another.
Mayor Livingstone’s doubts “that al-Qaeda will be considering the implications for health and safety legislation when they are planning their terrorist activities” will be shared by many Londoners.
Over the past year many have rightly praised London’s resilience in the wake of the bombings. Our concern is that this very resilience has already masked the widespread public anxiety in the wake of July 7th and the failed attacks of July 21st.
It is in this context that the actions of the officers need to be judged. They were required to make a split second decision which tragically resulted in the death of an innocent man but which could so easily have saved the lives of hundreds.
It was in the interests of the health and safety of all those in and around Stockwell tube that officers acted. To now prosecute the force for failing to protect the health and safety of a single individual is perverse in the extreme.
There’s a Comment is Free on this issue written by members of the ‘Justice for Jean’ lobby group and their solicitor.