Tube killing: officers 'may face charges'

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The Independent Online

The fatal shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes by anti-terror officers may lead to criminal charges, it was revealed today.

Nick Hardwick, chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), said it was "likely" that its independent inquiry report would be sent to the Crown Prosecution Service for a decision over whether any of the police officers involved should be charged.

He also revealed today that his investigators have not interviewed Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair during their inquiry into the fatal shooting of Mr de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station in south London on July 22.

Mr Hardwick refused to confirm whether a statement had been taken from him.

Mr de Menezes was shot seven times in the head by anti-terror officers after being mistaken for a suicide bomber the day after the failed July 21 alleged bomb attacks.

Mr Hardwick said the IPCC had to decide whether its findings indicated that criminal offences may have taken place.

This was a lower threshold than for the CPS, which would then have to decide whether to bring actual charges against any of the Scotland Yard officers involved in the operation, he explained.

Asked directly if he thought a copy of the IPCC report would be sent to the CPS when it is finished in January, Mr Hardwick said: "I think that is likely."

He added: "I think it will meet that lower threshold. I do not give a complete guarantee of that."

The IPCC would not detail the nature of the alleged offences which the CPS could potentially have to consider, although it is believed they could include offences as serious as murder or manslaughter.

The IPCC's director of legal services John Tate said that if the report was sent to the CPS it would include a list of the criminal offences which they judged may have been committed.

The alleged offences would be attached to the names of individual officers who had been investigated, if they decided there was evidence that criminality may have occurred.

Mr Tate said: "If we send a report to the CPS we will say that the report indicates that the following offences might have been committed.

"We will not go higher than that, it is for the CPS to determine whether they agree or disagree with us and whether they are going to prosecute."

Mr Hardwick said he was anxious to avoid a repeat of the Harry Stanley case, which took around six years to resolve. The police marksmen involved only learned earlier this year that they would not face charges over the fatal shooting of the painter and decorator who was carrying a chair leg.

Asked why Sir Ian had not been interviewed Mr Hardwick said he was "confident" that his investigators had spoken to everyone they needed to in relation to the inquiry.

"I'm happy for people to make their minds up about whether we have done a real investigation when they see the results of what we have done," he said. "One way or another it will come out either in court or at the inquest."

He said that a second investigation into a complaint by the family of Mr de Menezes over alleged misinformation about his death and the conduct of Sir Ian was in its early stages.

The commissioner could potentially be interviewed during the course of that separate investigation, although Mr Hardwick said that was not guaranteed.

In relation to the first inquiry, known as Stockwell 1, he said: "I am confident that we will be able to answer the questions that arise out of the incident on the 22nd (of July) but we are not going to deal with wider questions about how we police the terrorist threat.

Mr Hardwick added: "We can make and will make recommendations about the operational issues that arise from the incident."

These could potentially be made to the Metropolitan Police, the Association of Chief Police Officers or even the Home Office, he said.