British police spied on De Menezes, Lawrence families

This music video is called Roger Waters – The ballad of Jean Charles de Menezes (subtitulado en español).

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Police stored information on a relative attending a funeral

Kashmira Gander

Thursday 24 July 2014

The Metropolitan Police secretly held information on 17 grieving families running justice campaigns for murdered family members, a report has revealed.

In his latest report from Operation Herne, investigating the conduct of undercover officers from Scotland Yard’s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), Derbyshire Chief Constable Mick Creedon said on Thursday that “emerging evidence” showed the Stephen Lawrence Campaign and a number of other families were mentioned in secret records.

This video from Britain is called Stephen Lawrence: Justice For A Murdered Son Part 1.

And this video is the sequel.

The campaigns ranged between 1970 and 2005, and were the result of people who died in police custody, died following police contact, or were murdered, he said.

Officers were in the process of telling the families concerned, and would share the knowledge and information held “where possible”. More families may emerge in time, the document adds.

The relatives of Jean Charles de Menezes are among those implicated. The Brazilian electrician was shot dead by police in 2005 after he was mistaken for a terrorist suspect, and his family are currently considering legal action against Scotland Yard following the report’s findings.

The Stephen Lawrence Campaign, and references to the death of Cherry Groce, which sparked the Brixton riots, and Ricky Reel, who died in mysterious circumstances in 1997, were also found.

An account of an unnamed individual planning to attend a funeral was among the information stored, despite the document acknowledging: “there was no intelligence to indicate that the funeral would have been anything other than a dignified event”.

Mr Creedon said the information should not have been retained unless it prevented crime or disorder, and admitted bereaved families are like to find the findings “distressing” and “inexplicable.”

While the report found no evidence that covert operations targeted grieving families or justice campaigns, it heavily criticised the fact that information that had no relevance in preventing crime.

Sukhdev Reel, who fought for answers about the death of her son Ricky Reel in 1997, told Channel 4 News on Wednesday, prior to the publication of the report: “Rather than them helping us pick up the pieces trying to find out what happened to us they were spying on us.

“I don’t understand it, I just feel I’ve been stripped of my dignity… I feel really angry,” she added.

A spokeswoman for the Jean Charles De Menezes Family Campaign said it was “shameful” that the Metropolitan police had spied on the legitimate campaign activities of a grieving family “who were simply trying to get the answers they deserved after their loved one was killed by police officers.”

Mr Creedon was called in to lead an inquiry into the SDS after a series of allegations were made about the unit, including that officers used the identities of dead children without permission and tricked women into serious sexual relationships.

It was also accused of having infiltrated campaign groups close to the family of murder victim Stephen Lawrence and gathering information to “smear” his relatives.

Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, from Scotland Yard, stopped short of apologising to the families, but said: “I regret enormously the distress that has been caused.”

He added he had been moved by interviews with Sukhdev Reel, Ricky Reel’s mother.

“There have been a number of families out there for whom this has caused much distress. I was moved by the interviews with Mrs Reel last night, and that’s why it’s so important that we are clear about the facts of what actually happened.

“There are very clear criticisms about what subsequently happened to the information gathered by individual officers, and I am not surprised by that.

“The decision to retain information or not is a challenge and getting the balance right is difficult.”

The next stage of the report that will continue for another year will be an assessment on culture of the SDS and allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

Undercover police gathered evidence on 18 grieving families. Intelligence covering high-profile campaigns was collected between the mid-1980s and 2005 and affected families including those of Jean Charles de Menezes and Stephen Lawrence: here.

THE family of murdered young Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes and the bereaved mother of teenager Ricky Reel yesterday condemned undercover spying on their campaigns for justice: here.

See also here.

SUKHDEV REEL’S description of how sick she felt on learning that her family had been spied on by police after the death of her son Ricky is gut-wrenching. The fact that a secret unit in the Metropolitan Police could collect information on campaigns set up by bereaved families displays a previously unimagined level of depravity: here.

Members of a secret police unit that illegally gathered information on grieving families are unlikely to face action, Derbyshire’s chief constable, Mick Creedon, has said: here.

Police have admitted they may have used the body of Christopher Alder for “training purposes” for years after his family believed they had buried him. And now the cops’ watchdog has said it will not investigate the revelations: here.

Will anyone pay for the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, asks JAMIE JOHNSON. TEN years ago today a young Brazilian electrician on his way to repair a broken fire alarm was executed on the London Underground: here.

17 thoughts on “British police spied on De Menezes, Lawrence families

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  8. Friday, 4 March 2016

    ‘Police spy should have been charged’ – say Stephen Lawrence’s parents

    THE police officer involved in an alleged plot to spy on the parents of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence should have faced disciplinary charges rather than be allowed to retire, his parents said.

    The Met Police allowed the former Met Police commander Richard Walton to retire from his post as the head of its counter-terrorism command. Walton quit in January, six days after a watchdog sent the Met the findings of its investigation into the police spying on the Lawrence family.

    Speaking from his home in Jamaica, Neville Lawrence said: ‘I have long felt that allowing officers to retire to avoid disciplinary action totally undermines public confidence in the police.’

    He said that the IPCC investigation had made it clear that the police had wrongly spied on his family, adding that he wanted to know ‘at what level of seniority within the Metropolitan Police this spying was sanctioned’.

    Doreen Lawrence said: ‘My family and the public at large have been denied the opportunity of seeing justice done yet again in this case.’

    The IPCC investigation was launched in 2014 after a Home Office-commissioned inquiry reported that police had been involved in a plot to collect ‘fascinating and valuable’ intelligence from an undercover officer.

    According to the investigation by Mark Ellison QC, the Met Police had planted the undercover officer in the ‘Lawrence family camp’ and was gathering information about the bereaved family and their supporters.

    He said it could have appeared that the Met was trying to use the intelligence to gain a ‘secret advantage’ over the family at a judge-led public inquiry into alleged wrongdoing by the police.

    At the time, former high court judge William Macpherson was heading the public inquiry scrutinising the Met’s botched investigation into Stephen’s murder by a racist gang in 1993. The investigation concluded that the police were ‘institutionally racist’.


  9. Wednesday 6th April 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    The de Menezes case shows how hard it is to hold fatal state force to account, writes MARY-RACHEL McCABE

    THE family of Jean Charles de Menezes last week lost a challenge in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over the decision not to charge any police officer for his fatal shooting.

    De Menezes was shot dead by police on July 22 2005, just two weeks after the July 7 bombings and one day after further attempted suicide bombings in London.

    In a botched surveillance operation on the residence of one of the suspected bombers, officers followed de Menezes, a Brazilian electrician who had no connection with the bombings, into Stockwell Tube station and onto a train, where they pinned him down and shot him seven times in the head.

    Following the fatal shooting, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) passed a detailed report to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the body responsible for prosecuting criminal cases in England and Wales.

    The report found that de Menezes had been killed because of mistakes that could and should have been avoided.

    It made a series of operational recommendations and identified a number of possible offences that might have been committed by the police officers involved, including murder and gross negligence.

    The CPS ruled out instigating murder or manslaughter charges against individual officers involved in the shooting because it concluded that there was insufficient evidence for a “realistic prospect of conviction.”

    The only conviction incurred by the police as a result of the shooting has been under health and safety laws — in 2007 the Met was fined £175,000 plus £385,000 costs for breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in the course of the operation’s planning and implementation.

    In 2008, after the coroner ruled out a verdict of unlawful killing, an inquest jury returned an open verdict on the basis that they did not accept the police’s claim that de Menezes was lawfully killed as part of an anti-terrorism operation.

    The jury dismissed police claims that they had shouted a warning before shooting de Menezes, or that he had moved towards the police when challenged.

    The application brought by the de Menezes family to the ECHR sought to make changes to the law to ensure that the police are brought to account for committing fatal offences.

    The family argued that de Menezes’s right to life had been violated by the CPS’s decision not to prosecute any individuals in relation to his death.

    Their first argument was that, in considering whether to bring a prosecution for a life-threatening offence against a state agent, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) applies too high a threshold.

    Under the current test, the DPP must be satisfied that there is enough evidence to provide a “realistic prospect of conviction” — in other words, that it’s above 50 per cent.

    This often means the DPP decides not to proceed with prosecutions of police officers involved in fatal shootings.

    The second argument put forward by de Menezes’s family was that the test for self-defence in British criminal law is contrary to the right to life.

    The test for self-defence has two parts; first, the officers who shot de Menezes had to show that they had an honest belief that he posed an imminent threat and, second, that the force they used was reasonable in the circumstances.

    Britain’s subjective test for self-defence means that, in the instance of a mistaken shooting by a police officer faced with a threat to him/herself or others — such as apparently occurred in the shooting of de Menezes — it does not matter that the officer’s belief may be objectively unreasonable.

    However strange the officer’s belief may be, and however weak the grounds on which it is based, the officer is legally permitted to act on that belief, provided the force that s/he uses is proportionate to the threat perceived.

    The de Menezes family argued that the first part of the self-defence test should be amended so that the officer must have a good reason, in the circumstances as he or she perceives them to be, for any belief that there is an imminent threat.

    But the Grand Chamber of the ECHR last week dismissed the family’s application, concluding that, while the facts of the case are “undoubtedly tragic and the frustration of Mr de Menezes’s family at the absence of any individual prosecutions is understandable,” there was no violation of de Menezes’s right to life.

    In particular, the court found that all aspects of the authorities’ responsibility for the fatal shooting had been thoroughly investigated and so it could not be said that the authorities had failed to ensure that those responsible for de Menezes’s death had been held accountable.

    The judgment concluded: ?“The decision not to prosecute any individual officer was not due to any failing in the investigation of the state’s intolerance of or collusion in unlawful acts; rather, it was due to the fact that, following a thorough investigation a prosecutor had considered all the facts of the case and concluded that there was insufficient evidence against any individual officer to prosecute.”

    Since 1990 there have been 1,015 deaths in police custody or following police contact and 58 fatal shootings by police officers in Britain and Northern Ireland.

    Yet in no case has any police officer been convicted of a criminal offence, even where an inquest jury has returned a finding of “unlawful killing.”

    Deborah Coles, director of Inquest, said that the ruling would serve to “further undermine the confidence of bereaved families in the processes for holding police to account.”

    She added: “At its core are concerns that the rule of law does not apply to the police for abuses of power in the same way as it does to an ordinary citizen and that they are able to avoid scrutiny and accountability. This serves only to create a culture of impunity which frustrates the prevention of abuses of power, ill treatment and misconduct.”

    Eleven years on, and still no police officer has been disciplined for the killing of de Menezes, let alone prosecuted.

    Last week’s ruling sadly represents the end of the road for his family, and it appears that no-one will ever be held accountable for de Menezes’s death.

    The lack of successful prosecutions of officers at any level in the Met for the killings of de Menezes and others such as Mark Duggan and Azelle Rodney has grave consequences for public trust in the police.

    It may be that a radical overhaul of the way in which these cases are investigated is needed, given that the existing judicial system has proven to be inadequate for the families of those who have been killed.

    Finding a solution to the current lack of accountability will not be easy, but until we have a justice system in which the police are seen to be subjected to the same level of scrutiny and punishment as ordinary citizens, public confidence in the service is likely to remain low. ??

    Mary-Rachel McCabe is a pupil barrister at Doughty Street Chambers. She tweets @MaryRachel_McC


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