No Charges for Menezes Officers

No police officers are to be prosecuted over the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at a Tube station. But the Metropolitan Police will be charged under health and safety laws. The Crown Prosecution Service said there was “insufficient evidence” to offer a realistic prospect of conviction against any individuals. Brazilian Mr Menezes, 27, was shot seven times in the head at Stockwell, south London, on 22 July 2005, after being mistaken for a suicide bomber. A surveillance team had been monitoring a block of flats in Tulse Hill, south London, where Mr Menezes lived, in the belief that a man wanted in connection with the previous day’s attempted suicide bombings in London resided there.

When Mr Menezes emerged from the flats, he was wrongly identified as the suspect and followed to Stockwell, where he was shot as he boarded a Tube train. An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report, handed to the CPS in January, was highly critical of the surveillance operation and police control room staff.

A series of organisational failings and communication difficulties had resulted in two experienced marksmen shooting dead an innocent man, it said. A number of police officers were served with “regulation nine” notices and interviewed under caution by the IPCC. They included Commander Cressida Dick who was the designated senior officer responsible for the operation.

The CPS said the office of Metropolitan Police Commissioner would be prosecuted under sections three and 33 of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act.

The IPCC said the question of potential disciplinary action against any individual officer would be considered under the Police Reform Act 2002.

A coroner will decide whether an inquest into Mr de Menezes’ death set for 7 September can go ahead. An IPCC spokeswoman said it would publish its full report “as soon as legal considerations allow”.

Metropolitan Police Authority member Damian Hockney said it was a mistake to prosecute the Met. “It will not satisfy those who believe that the police should not be prosecuted, and it will look like an insult or a cover-up to those who do,” he said.

Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, Jan Berry, said: “Whilst the just, fair and difficult decision reached by the CPS today is welcomed by the police service, we must never forget the hurt and devastation caused to the de Menezes family by the tragic and fatal shooting of Jean Charles last year.”

Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes described the decision as “helpful”.

The Health and Safety at Work Act requires the Met to ensure that its operations do not put the public at risk.

Previously, former Commissioners Lord Stevens and Lord Condon were taken to court by the Health and Safety Executive after one officer died and another was seriously injured when they fell through roofs while pursuing suspects.

They were cleared at the Old Bailey in June 2003.