Sir Ian to be 'criticised', not disciplined, over Stockwell

New inquiry finds no evidence that the Met Commissioner misled the public after last year's police shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes
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The Independent Online

Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, is understood to be among those officers singled out for criticism in an official report into the handling of the aftermath of the Stockwell shooting.

The Met chief is on a list drawn up by law-yers of people who will receive a formal letter from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), warning them of the findings. Sources close to the inquiry said: "Clearly there was a cock-up and the buck stops with him."

The investigators have spent more than a year examining an allegation by the family of Jean Charles de Menezes that Sir Ian misled the public over the shooting of the Brazilian electrician at Stockwell Tube station last year.

The trigger for the complaint was a comment made by Sir Ian at a press conference shortly after the killing. At the briefing he told journalists that he understood Mr de Menezes had been shot by marksmen after he was challenged and refused to obey police orders to stop.

The IPCC inquiry has now been completed and over the next few weeks its legal advisers are expected to contact everyone whose role has been called into question in "Stockwell Two" (the first investigation looked into the shooting itself).

This process, known as a "Salmon letter", gives those criticised in an inquiry the opportunity to put their own side and correct anything they believe is inaccurate. However, Scotland Yard insiders say they are confident that the allegations are not serious enough to warrant any formal disciplinary action by the police watchdog, the Metropolitan Police Authority.

It is believed that investigators have found no evidence that Sir Ian deliberately misled the public in a bid to justify the bungled anti-terror operation.

This will be a relief for the Commissioner, who has had to reassure the public that he is up to the job of leading the Met in the face of fierce criticism over his handling of the Stockwell shooting. Investigators interviewed the Commissioner in August, and other senior Met officers were also asked to give their version of events.

But Met insiders say that Sir Ian is furious about the length of time it has taken for the allegations over his comments to be investigated.

One source said: "This whole investigation has dragged on for so long and yet we are talking about a single statement that was made in public. It's taken 15 months to establish who said what to who - it's extraordinary."

This week the High Court rejected the attempt by the family of Mr de Menezes to bring charges against the firearms officers who shot him.However, the Metropolitan Police is facing prosecution for failing to provide for the health, safety and welfare of Mr de Menezes.