De Menezes shooting: Police guilty of 'catastrophic errors'

Some 831 days after Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by police with seven bullets to the head, the first public declaration of blame was made when the Metropolitan Police was found guilty yesterday of making 19 catastrophic errors in the operation which led to his death.

The conviction of Britain's biggest police force at the Old Bailey for failing in its duty to ensure the safety of the public brought immediate calls for Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, to resign.

Mr de Menezes, a 27-year-old Brazilian electrician, was killed by armed officers on 22 July 2005, after he was mistaken for one of the men behind the failed suicide attacks on London Transport the day before. Despite two inquiries by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, no charges or disciplinary action has yet been brought against any of the officers involved.

At the dramatic conclusion of an unprecedented four-week trial, the force was convicted of committing a succession of mistakes during a surveillance operation on the block of flats in south London where Mr de Menezes lived.

The failed operation resulted in the Brazilian being allowed to board two buses and a Tube train despite pursuing officers believing that he could be Hussain Osman, one of four fugitive bombers who had lived in the same apartment block.

The court heard that during a six-hour period on 22 July, 19 key failings took place that included an "inexplicable" four-hour delay in sending a team from the CO19 firearms unit to support the surveillance team and a critical breakdown in communication in the "noisy and chaotic" control room which led to senior officers, led by "Gold Commander" Cressida Dick, wrongly believing that Mr de Menezes had been identified five times as Osman.

Mr Justice Henriques, the trial judge, said he accepted the botched operation was "very much an isolated breach brought about by quite extraordinary circumstances". In an unusual move, the jury added a rider to its verdict saying that Ms Dick, now a deputy assistant commissioner, bore "no personal culpability" for the failings that led to Mr de Menezes's death.

But the judge underlined that the Yard had fallen short to a "significant and meaningful extent" and significant aspects of its conduct remained unjustified: "One person died and many others placed in potential danger ... There was a serious failure of accurate communication which has not been explained."

The force was fined £175,000 and ordered to pay costs of £385,000 after it was found unanimously guilty of a single charge of breaching section 3(i) of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act, which requires all employers to do everything reasonable to protect the public from harm during their activities. The jury took less than five hours to reach its verdict.

The family of Mr de Menezes expressed fury at the conduct of the Yard and its lawyers during the trial, accusing the police of a "sickening" attempt to smear the Brazilian by suggesting his behaviour and personal life could have contributed to his death. The jury was told a post-mortem examination showed Mr de Menezes had taken cocaine – although it was highly unlikely the drug could have still been affecting him on the day of his death – and had a forged immigration stamp in his passport.

Ronald Thwaites QC, for the defence, said it was possible these factors explained why the Brazilian had allegedly behaved in an "aggressive and threatening manner" as armed police approached him in a London Underground train carriage. Police were also accused of manipulating a composite photograph of Mr de Menezes and Osman to make the two men look more alike. The claim was strongly denied.

Harriet Wistrich, the solicitor for the de Menezes family, called for a "full and fearless" inquest now to be held into the events of 22 July, insisting that evidence presented in the trial and available elsewhere justified the bringing of manslaughter charges against individual officers.

The 19 failings outlined by the prosecution

1. Failing adequately to communicate Commander McDowell's strategy to the officers who took over the running of the operation on 22 July

2. Failing adequately to plan for or carry out his strategy for controlling the premises

3. A 'confused and inconsistent' understanding among the Scotland Yard control room officers and the surveillance officers of what the strategy was for Scotia Road

4. Failure to deploy officers to stop and question people emerging from Scotia Road

5. Failure to ensure that a CO19 firearms team was there when Mr de Menezes emerged from the communal doorway

6. A failure to have a contingency plan to deal with people emerging from the flats before CO19 arrived

7. Failure to stop and question people emerging from the flats

8. Failure to identify a "safe and appropriate" area where those leaving could be stopped and questioned

9. "Inaccurate and unbalanced" briefings given to firearms officers at Leman Street and Nightingale Lane, gave them "inadequate and inaccurate information"

10. Information about the identification of Mr de Menezes, his clothing, demeanour and "likely level of threat" was not properly or accurately told to officers, particularly firearms officers;

11. Failure to ensure that doubts about the correctness of the identification of Mr de Menezes were communicated to officers in the control room in Scotland Yard

12. Failure by control room officers to satisfy themselves that a positive identification of Mr de Menezes as the suspect had been made by the surveillance officers

13. Failure to deploy firearms officers at relevant locations in time to stop Mr de Menezes getting on to the bus and in the Tube station

14. Failure by firearms officers to satisfy themselves that a positive identification of Mr de Menezes as the suspect had been made by surveillance officers

15. Failure to take effective steps to stop Tube trains or buses or take other "travel management steps" to minimise the risk to thetravelling public

16. That Mr de Menezes was allowed twice to get on to a bus and to go into the Tube station despite being a suspected suicide bomber and emerging from an address linked to a suspected suicide bomber

17. Failure to give a "clear or timely order" that Mr de Menezes must be stopped or arrested before entering Stockwell Tube station

18. Failure to give accurate information to Commander Dick about where CO19 officers were when she was deciding if they or Special Branch officers should stop the suspect

19. Failure to minimise the risk inherent in arresting Mr de Menezes by armed officers "whether in relation to the location, timing or manner of his arrest"

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?