Brazilian's family hears defence of shoot-to-kill

Click to follow

Watched by relatives of the Brazilian electrician, Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, insisted the policy would stay in place.

Sir Ian saidthe shoot-to-kill decision had been re-examined after the death of Mr Menezes, who died after being shot eight times on a London Underground train at Stockwell station, south London, by police marksmen on 22 July.

He told the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee: "We made a small number of administrative changes, but the essential thrust of the tactics remains the same. There is no question that a suicide bomber, deadly and determined, who is intent on murder, is perhaps the highest level of threat that we face and we must have an option to deal with it."

Describing the policy as the "least worst option", he said it would have been worse to come before the select committee and admit that Scotland Yard had no policy to deal with "suicide bombers on the loose".

Mr Clarke said chief constables had to be allowed to take "hard decisions" aimed at best protecting the public from terrorists.

He said: "The objective of the policy is not to go around killing people. The objective of the policy is to protect the public against any particular threat of criminality that can arise."

The men refused to discuss the details of Mr Menezes' killing as it is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. But Sir Ian, sitting yards from three cousins of the dead man - Alessandro Pereira, Vivian Figueiredo, and Patricia da Silva Armani - repeated Scotland Yard's apology for the shooting.

In a statement Mr Menezes' family members said: "We are horrified to know that the shoot-to-kill policy is still in operation today. The death of Jean shows that this policy is a danger to innocent people all across the country.

"It remains a secret policy, a policy that nobody knows how it operates, a policy that has never been discussed in Parliament."

They refused to meet Sir Ian after the hearing, which was called to discuss the lessons learnt from the terror attacks on July 7 and the failed attacks of July 21.

Scotland Yard said: "He offered through the family liaison officer to speak to them to make his apology in person. That was politely declined."