London police chief under pressure

London’s Metropolitan Police chief is facing growing calls to resign over the shooting of an innocent Brazilian man, as reports emerged that he tried to stop an inquiry into the killing and the fallout from last month’s London bombings continue.

Police in Britain say Muslims could do more to cooperate
Police in Britain say Muslims could do more to cooperate

Supporters of Jean Charles de Menezes said Commissioner Sir Ian Blair must go if he deliberately gave misleading information about the death of the 27-year-old.

Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes, mistaken for a bomber, was shot eight times by police on an underground train on 22 July, the day after four would-be bombers failed in attacks on London’s transport system and two weeks after the 7 July attacks that left 56 people dead.

Public confidence in the police was undermined this week after leaked documents contradicted earlier claims about the shooting and revealed a series of blunders that led to de Menezes’ death.

Harriet Wistrich, a lawyer for de Menezes’ family, called on Blair to step down and said relatives wanted to know why police gave false information about the operation and never retracted it.

“Sir Ian Blair should resign,” Wistrich told ITV News. “The lies that appear to have been put out, like the statement from Sir Ian Blair for instance, are clearly wrong. And nobody has stepped in to correct the lies.”

Menezes (2nd R), mistaken for a
was shot eight times

On the day of the shooting, Blair said it had been “directly linked” to anti-terror operations and that the suspect had refused to obey police instructions when challenged.

Initial reports also said de Menezes had been acting suspiciously – wearing a bulky jacket, jumping a ticket barrier and sprinting onto the train.

But witness accounts and photographs leaked to ITV on Tuesday showed him in a light denim jacket walking calmly into the station, using a ticket to enter – even stopping to collect a newspaper – and only running along the platform to catch his train in time.

They also revealed that de Menezes had already been detained by a surveillance officer on the train before he was shot eight times.

Family fury

“We never believed that story of theirs. We knew that they
(London authorities) were lying,” Maria Beatriz de Figueiredo,
an aunt of de Menezes, said.

“The officers who have done this have to be sent to jail for life because it’s murder, and the people who gave them the order to shoot must be punished”

Alex Alvez Pereira,
friend of de Menezes

“I already knew Jean never had a reason to run, but now everyone knows he didn’t, and the police acted much worse than we thought,” said Romir Pereira, a close friend who lives in de Menezes’ hometown of Gonzaga, 750km northeast of Sao Paulo.

“The government there needs to take action, and make arrests.”

In London, one of de Menezes’ many cousins called for sweeping action against those directly responsible for the killing, and said their superiors should not be spared.

“The officers who have done this have to be sent to jail for life because it’s murder, and the people who gave them the order to shoot must be punished,” said Alex Alvez Pereira.

Heat on Blair

Nick Harvery, an MP for the smaller opposition Liberal Democrats, said Blair’s position was becoming “untenable”.

“He would do himself a lot of good if he could show some contrition and make some public acknowledgement of just how badly it’s all been handled,” he was quoted as saying in the Financial Times.

“If he continues to bluster his position will become untenable,” said Harvey, who is a member of a home affairs committee in the House of Commons.

Lawmakers are due to quiz Blair at a meeting of the committee next month.

Ian Blair (right) had pushed to quash an external inquiry

Ian Blair (right) had pushed to
quash an external inquiry

Turning up the heat on the police chief, The Times and The  Guardian newspapers reported that he asked the Home Office on the day of the killing to stop an independent external investigation.

Blair wrote to John Grieve, permanent secretary at the Home Office, to ask for an internal inquiry instead because he felt one by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) would impede anti-terror operations, they said.

After an exchange of views, Blair’s request was overruled by the Home Office, which said the IPCC was legally obliged to investigate.

A statement from Scotland Yard on Wednesday, however, showed – contrary to normal practice – IPCC investigators were kept away from Stockwell station for a further three days.

The IPCC is due to brief lawyers for de Menezes’ family about the latest information on Thursday.

‘Take him alive’

Adding to the sense of error, the Daily Mirror tabloid said on Thursday that Metropolitan Police Commander Cressida Dick had instructed officers de Menezes to take him alive before he entered the underground station.

London’s 7 July bombings left 56 people dead

London’s 7 July bombings left 56
people dead

Despite the command, a firearms team followed the electrician onto a train and shot him dead at point blank range.

“There’s no doubt that Commander Dick did not instruct anyone to shoot de Menezes,” a senior source at Scotland Yard was quoted as telling the Mirror.

“The gun team were there as a precaution. It looks as if they didn’t have time to tell them to grab the man, not shoot him dead,” the source said.

Security alert

In a sign on Wednesday that the British capital is still jittery from the 7 July blasts and 21 July attempted attacks, British police carried out a series of controlled explosions on a van at a motorway service station in northwest England in what they described as a security alert.

“Three controlled explosions have been carried out,” a police spokeswoman said.

Police were called at 2.10pm (1310 GMT) to Hapsford
service station outside Chester to investigate an unattended van and closed access to the M56 motorway between Junctions 12 and 14 at 4.40pm on Wednesday. 

Police later reopened the motorway after they traced the
van’s owner. Cheshire police said no criminal charges had been


Meanwhile, British police said Muslims could do more to cooperate with them in the wake of the London bombings, but added it would take time to overcome fear, mistrust and powerlessness felt in the community.


“It is the wider fear: Who are the preachers of hate? Who is distributing the hate material? Who are the people who are radicalised”

Tarique Ghaffur,
British Muslim police officer

Tarique Ghaffur, the most senior Muslim police officer in London‘s Metropolitan Police, said Muslims’ reticence was not impeding the on-going investigation into the attacks, but rather the prevention of more strikes.


Fifty-six people were killed, including four bombers, in the 7 July attacks on three London Underground trains and a double-decker bus.


An attempt to carry out copycat bombings two weeks later failed when the bombs did not fully detonate.

“It is the wider fear: Who are the preachers of hate? Who is distributing the hate material? Who are the people who are radicalised?” Ghaffur, assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, told the Financial Times.


Following the deadly blasts, Metropolitan Police chief Ian Blair called on Muslims in Britain to “find ways of identifying those preachers of hate and who they are talking to”. But Ghaffur said: “It is not happening.”


Verdict harsh

A spokesman for the Muslim Safety Forum, an umbrella organisation for numerous Islamic groups, considered that verdict harsh, but pointed out the difficulties for Muslims considering coming forward with information.

“If you’re a Muslim, after these attacks when there has been a 600% increase in attacks against Muslims, and knowing that the consequences may be disproportionate, you might not want you and your family to be dragged into this,” policeman Tahir Butt said.


Furthermore, those around alleged bombers are often unaware of their intentions.

“If their parents did not realise what they were up to, how would the imam at the mosque know?” Butt asked.


Huge economic cost

On Thursday, the Financial Times reported that economists working for London’s mayor forecast that last month’s deadly attacks would cost the city’s economy up to 300 million pounds ($540 million).

“If their parents did not realise what they were up to, how would the imam at the mosque know?”

Tahir Butt, spokesman,
Muslim Safety Forum

But the newspaper added that the predicted economic loss of between 200 and 300 million pounds was far short of the 600-million-pound slump in business suffered by London before, during and immediately after the Iraq war. 

The latest economic estimates were made by a team working for mayor Ken Livingstone, who launched promotions and cultural events on Wednesday to boost the London economy in September. 

The scheme includes discounts on hotel rooms and theatre

“The aim is for seven million Londoners and visitors to look at the city’s offerings and visit with new eyes,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Source : News Agencies

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