Officers involved in De Menezes killing escape disciplinary action

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The Independent Online

None of the senior police officers in charge of the botched operation which led to the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes will face disciplinary action.

Investigators decided no one could be held personally responsible for the "catastrophic errors" that resulting in the killing of an innocent man.

The decision by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) not to recommend disciplinary proceedings against four officers, including Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, commander of the operation, was a "scandal", said relatives of Mr De Menezes because it has been made before next year's inquest into the 27-year-old Brazilian's death.

Eleven other officers have already been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Vivian Figuierdo, a cousin of Mr De Menezes, said: "It is premature for the IPCC to do this before an inquest where vital evidence about the actions of these officers could come to light. It's the worst Christmas present we could get."

The inquest will be the first time the two officers who fired the seven shots which killed Mr De Menezes will be asked to testify about their actions in a public hearing and face cross-examination. They had mistakenly believed he was a suicide bomber.

But the IPCC, which has conducted two separate inquiries into the events of 22 July 2005 when the Brazilian was tracked from his home in south London to Stockwell Tube station during a series of "fundamental failures" by pursuing police, said it was unlikely that new evidence would emerge at the inquest.

The police watchdog said it had considered whether the mistakes made in the operation, a day after four suicide bombers launched a failed attack on London, amounted to personal misconduct by the four senior officers, Ms Dick, her deputy and two senior firearms officers known by their codenames of Silver, Trojan 84 and Trojan 80.

In November, the Metropolitan Police was found guilty of breaching health and safety laws by failing to minimise the risks faced by the public and fined 175,000. But the Old Bailey jury took the unusual step of adding a rider to its verdict saying they believed Ms Dick had been given "inaccurate information" and bore "no personal culpability".

The IPCC decided any failures in the planning or management of the surveillance operation did not amount to personal misconduct. A statement said: "The IPCC cannot foresee any circumstances in which new evidence might emerge which would cause any disciplinary tribunal to disregard the jury's rider." The ruling means that only two officers have had any form of reprimand over the death of Mr De Menezes.

Last week, the IPCC ruled that Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman, commander of the Yard's terrorism unit until he announced he was stepping down this month, should be given "advice" on his conduct after he waited 24 hours before telling Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, that an innocent man had been killed. A surveillance officer outside the Brazilian's flat was also given advice, the lowest form of reprimand available.

Cressida Dick: in the frame

* The allegations: During the trial at the Old Bailey, Ms Dick was repeatedly accused by prosecutors of making a string of strategic errors which ultimately contributed to the death of Mr De Menezes. As "Gold Commander" in the Yard's crowded control room, she was in overall command of the tactics and strategy of the surveillance operation. A detailed log revealed that Ms Dick did not give an order for lightly armed surveillance officers to stop the Brazilian before he reached Stockwell Tube station during a journey which took nearly 30 minutes. Instead she waited until specialist firearms officers had arrived in the last moments of the operation. The log shows she changed her mind three times about which group should make the arrest after Mr De Menezes had entered the Tube.

* The verdict: Ms Dick strenuously denied she had made strategic errors. She said she had been told five times by her assistants that Mr De Menezes had been identified as one of the missing suicide bombers. The trial jury cleared Ms Dick of wrongdoing, adding a note to its verdict saying she bore "no personal culpability". The IPCC has now decided she should not face further proceedings because she was not responsible for any failures in the planning or management of the operation.