Menezes family set to sue police over shooting

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The Independent Online

The family of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian man shot dead by police, are preparing to take legal action in a campaign for murder or manslaughter charges to be brought against officers involved in the killing.

Supporters of Mr Menezes said they may also bring a private prosecution against Metropolitan Police officers if the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) does not charge them.

The warnings came as the CPS was due to disclose on Monday whether any officers would face criminal charges for the incident in which the 27-year-old electrician was shot seven times in the head on a Tube train at Stockwell station in south London. It looks increasingly likely that the CPS will clear the officers involved, but may use health and safety laws to prosecute the Metropolitan Police.

Campaigners for Mr Menezes have hired the leading barrister Michael Mansfield QC and said that he would ask for a judicial review of any decision not to bring manslaughter or murder charges. The legal action would be an attempt to force the CPS to disclose the full details of an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) into the shooting.

Campaigners described the prospect of the Met being prosecuted under health and safety legislation for failing in their duty of care towards Mr Menezes as an "insult".

The shooting came a day after four men allegedly failed in an attempt to set off bombs on a bus and Tube trains in London. Mr Menezes was mistakenly identified as one of the terrorists and shot dead by two firearms officers after they were reportedly told to stop the suspected terrorist at all costs.

Over the past six months, the CPS has been considering charges against about 10 police officers involved in the operation.

Jasmin Khan, spokeswoman for The Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign, said yesterday: "The family really want manslaughter or murder charges - that is the only decision they will be happy with or accept on Monday.

"I spoke to them this morning and the reaction to a health and safety charge was one of shock and insult.

"When you think of health and safety you think of roadworks or food poisoning, not someone being shot dead on a Tube train.

"Our bottom line is that we will not stand for this. We have got Michael Mansfield QC, so that we can get a judicial review on the CPS's decision if we are unhappy with it. We will be pressing for a full disclosure of all the evidence. We do not want an edited version of the investigation.

"The CPS has kept us totally in the dark. We are all very frustrated with what has been happening. We are not going to give up.

If there are no charges there would be a possibility of a private prosecution, although that would have to come after an inquest was completed.

"We are also going to ask for a public inquiry into the shooting and the police policy surrounding what happened." She added that the Menezes family was feeling "very emotional" in the days before the anniversary of the fatal shooting.

Campaigners are to hold a memorial service at Stockwell Tube station on 22 July at which the advertised speakers include the playwright and director Harold Pinter, the EU goodwill ambassador Bianca Jagger and Mr Mansfield.

The left-wing barrister has represented people in a series of high-profile cases, including the family of the murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence; the Guildford Four; the Birmingham Six; and Barry George, the man who was convicted of shooting dead the television presenter Jill Dando.

Prosecutors have been considering the Menezes case since January, when the IPCC handed over its report into the shooting. The decision has been taken by a senior CPS reviewing lawyer and approved by Ken Macdonald, the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The IPCC's report is highly critical of the organisation surrounding the Metropolitan Police's botched operation at Stockwell, which is likely to add to the pressure on Sir Ian Blair, the force's Commissioner, whose future has been questioned.