Prospects for Sir Ian Blair and the Met

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Indy Politics

Is anyone being punished for the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station a year ago?

No officer is being charged with a criminal offence, but the Metropolitan Police will be charged under sections 3 and 33 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 of failing to provide for the health, safety and welfare of Mr Menezes.

Why are no individuals being charged for shooting an innocent, unarmed man seven times in the head and once in the shoulder?

The CPS said the two firearms officers who shot Mr Menezes did so in the genuine belief that he was a suicide bomber - information that was provided to them by their command. This would rule out a murder or manslaughter charge.

The CPS said there was evidence of errors in planning and communication but there was not sufficient evidence to show any individual was grossly negligent.

The CPS considered a criminal charge against an officer for allegedly altering the log book so it appeared that Mr Menezes had not been identified as a wanted suspect. No charges were brought because two experts consulted by the CPS could not agree on whether the book had been altered, and by whom. Fifteen officers were considered for prosecution. They will now be considered for internal disciplinary action but may have to wait until after the health and safety trial is completed.

What do Crown prosecutors have to prove to convict the Met of a health and safety offence, and what is the punishment?

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places the onus of proof on the Metropolitan Police to show they took reasonable and practical steps to protect Mr Menezes and prevent his death. Lawyers say this can be difficult to prove.

All the Met officers involved will have to give evidence, as well as anti-terrorist chiefs and probably Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner, who sanctioned the "shoot-to-kill" tactic used against suspected suicide bombers. If convicted, the Metropolitan Police faces an unlimited fine, which could be millions of pounds.

When is the trial likely?

The police will have to prepare for a long and complicated case at the Old Bailey. This is not likely to start until well into next year.

What does that mean for the two independent inquiries into the shooting and its aftermath, and for the inquest?

The first inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the shooting will form a large part of the prosecution, so publication will be delayed until after the trial. The second inquiry, which is into the actions of the Met and Sir Ian Blair in the aftermath of the shooting, is due to be completed by early autumn and an edited version will be made public shortly afterwards. An inquest is likely to be delayed until after the trial but there are calls to have it later this year.

What impact does this have on Sir Ian Blair?

On one level it is good news for Sir Ian, who has faced calls to resign, because none of his officers are to be prosecuted and the health and safety trial will give him and the Met breathing space. But Sir Ian is bound to be strongly criticised in the second IPCC inquiry later this year and he faces the prospect of his force being fined millions late next year.