Saturday, 13 December 2008

On the De Menezes Verdict

It is deeply wrong that the De Menezes coroner's jury were not allowed to consider unlawful killing as a verdict.

Deeply wrong, both morally and as a matter of law.

Morally, because in such a sensitive and complex case the jury should be left to consider all of the options.

Legally, because the judge appears to have misdirected himself that unlawful killing could only imply murder. In fact, it can imply manslaughter or even a breach of health and safety law (of which the Met have already been convicted).

The De Menezes family are right to be outraged. Their usually annoying and self-promotional lawyer - Michael Mansfield QC - was correct to withdraw from the proceedings. I wish them well for their judicial review.

For the best legal summary, from a lawyer for the De Menezes team, see here. The inequality of arms between the police and the De Menezes legal teams is sickening.

I accept that had De Menezes instead been killed by the July bombers then there would not be this media profile.

But he was killed by the State, and it is most appropriate that we are anxious. This is especially true as the police are increasingly a law to themselves and this case a rare example of scrutiny and accountability.

The De Menezes family in this case do not only speak for themselves, but for all of us who care about our safety in the face of the police's terrifying power and sheer incompetence.

1 comment:

marmitelover said...

Good to read your opinion on this case. I did wonder if the judge made this decision because it would have meant that the policemen would have been accused of murder but it seems that this is not the case.
The policemen should not have convictions for a mistake, made in difficult circumstances, on behalf of public safety, but surely a more satisfactory decision could have been made.
As it is, it looks like an establishment cover-up.