The De Menezes Whitewash

So the verdict of the De Menezes inquest is in: an open verdict.

The jury has said that, after the option of unlawful killing was inexplicably withdrawn from them by the coroner Sir Michael Wright, that the killing of Jean Charles De Menezes was not lawful, and that the Metropolitan Police firearms officer C12 who fired on him lied when he claimed to have shouted ‘armed police’ before opening fire in 2005. Now I may be naive here, but that sounds an awful lot like murder, cover-up and perjury – so why would the coroner refuse to allow an unlawful killing verdict?

The intrigue exploded into the open today, with the revelation of a gagging order imposed by the coroner when he began summing up last week:

These decisions began a week of escalating tension that exploded into open hostility between the family and the court and resulted in the relatives withdrawing their legal team and their cooperation.

“It is increasingly clear in the last week that the coroner’s impartiality has simply disappeared,” said Jasmin Khan of the Justice4Jean campaign. “That is one of the reasons why the family felt they had no choice but to withdraw their cooperation.”

The relatives had hoped the jury would be told of their decision to withdraw before they retired to consider their verdicts, but the barristers for the police and the coroner agreed that only the blandest of statements about the absence of the family’s legal team could be given to the jury.

The coroner had earlier ordered the public and the media to leave the courtroom while he completed his summing up to the jury last week, giving no reason except to say he had reached a “sensitive” point in the hearing.

When the public refused amid repeated requests for clarification of his ruling, there was a standoff for an hour and 40 minutes. The public refused to leave and the coroner refused to return to court.

At one point the team of bouncers with walkie-talkie microphones on their shirt cuffs who had been hired to provide security at the inquest were seen huddling in a corner. “We can’t use violence, that’s clear,” one was overheard saying.

Eventually the coroner’s orders were upheld and the public, including supporters of the family, left the court.

The relatives were held back by security guards and kept out of the courtroom while barristers, police and the coroner filed in. Having lost all faith that those inside would honour the principle that “justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done”, they attempted to storm into the courtroom.

Bizarre. But the jury was unmoved by Wright’s incredible manipulations, and clearly did everything it could to confirm legally that De Menezes was murdered:

The jury found that the firearms officer, C12, did not shout “armed police” before shooting De Menezes and that the Brazilian did not move towards him aggressively, prompting the fatal shot.


3 responses to “The De Menezes Whitewash

  1. The jury at my brother’s inquest was limited in a similar way, and their response was the same – an open verdict. We couldn’t afford financially or emotionally to take the matter further. I really don’t understand why the coroner is allowed to limit the jury in this way.

  2. Waste of time and public money trying to make this look like something other than a massive failure of the police to dispense their duties properly.

    We don’t want a police force that acts irrationally because it feels under pressure because of recent terrorist efforts. We want them to stay cool and calm and focused on evidence-based policing. This whole tragedy was due to panic-based incompetence and out-and-out flailing.

    But unfortunately the coroner seems to have decided that the larger issue of police confidence needed to take precedence over a sober and painfully honest establishment of the facts.

    They did wrong to Jean Charles de Menezes and now that wrong has been legitimized.

  3. If anybody would like to ask Sir Michael Wright why he chose to clear the court room of public and media during the summing up, not permit a verdict of unlawful killing or why he apparently thinks its ok to lie under oath in court to mitigate the impact of what might be a … tragic mistake [whatever mitigating the imapct might mean, presumably mitigating the impact for yourself and your employer?]

    His email address is available through:

    just search under the barrister link better still just google his name take you straight there.

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