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The Metropolitan police was today found guilty of a catastrophic series of errors during the operation that led to firearms officers shooting Jean Charles de Menezes dead on the London underground.

The force was fined £175,000 and ordered to pay £385,000 costs after an Old Bailey jury found it had breached health and safety rules and failed in its duty to protect members of the public in the killing of the Brazilian electrician at Stockwell station on July 22 2005.


In a highly unusual move, the judge, Mr Justice Henriques, allowed the jury to insert a caveat into the verdict that stated that Cressida Dick, the commander in charge of the operation on the day, should not be held personally culpable for the events that unfolded.

Met guilty over De Menezes shooting | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

I feel that this is justice  both delayed and denied.

The main issue I have is with the ridiculousness of the charge. Of all the things that happened leading up to the murder of an innocent man, the only thing that was even remotely questionable in a criminal court was a health and safety omission? The mind recoils.

The optimist may well say, at least we have a conviction. At least in practice, de Menezes has been vindicated and the Met have accepted responsibility for their failures on conviction.

I believe that such unbounded optimism would be misplaced.

The Met may have taken the rap for it, but as is often the case with government, they don’t bear the costs of their own failures. Will the procedures and operations of the Met change internally? Will they put in the procedures to ensure something like this cannot happen again? Will we have any real way to know until another innocent man gets shot?

Neither will any of the myriad police officers involved that day take any personal responsibility. That the commander of the operation is to be treated as blameless troubles me. With power comes responsibility, but apparently not when your negligence results in killing with unlawful authority for the right people.

Instead after a series of errors so atrocious that we have to pretend this performance was comedic to deal with it., we must accept that no one will take the slightest blemish in their professional lives.

It feels wrong at so many levels.