The Independent, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail have all picked up on former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair's biography Policing Controversy, in which he makes the following, astonishing claim about the firearms officers who killed Jean Charles de Menezes:
The Justice4Jean campaign has responded by saying:
Given what they thought they were dealing with, [SO19 officers] Charlie 2 and Charlie 12, in running towards and getting within a few feet of a suspected suicide bomber, and [surveillance officer] Ivor, who sprang on him and pinned his arms to his sides on the Tube train, should each have been awarded the George Medal.
Instead they live for the rest of their lives with the knowledge that they took part in the killing of an entirely innocent man.
Had he been a suicide bomber and they had not shot him and the train had blown up, then, if not dead themselves, they would have faced an investigation for manslaughter.
As the coroner implied by refusing to allow the inquest jury to consider a verdict of unlawful killing, their decisions were reasonable decisions on what they themselves knew and perceived. The great difficulty is that this is a case in which it appears that so were the decisions of everybody else.
The point, if course, is that Jean was not a terrorist - he was just another Londoner travelling to work, unaware of the terrible fate that awaited him. Linking one of the highest awards for civilian gallantry to a catastrophic disaster for the Met and to officers who were lucky (thanks to the protection that the state gives to the police) not to face at least manslaughter charges for killing an innocent man is, quite frankly, appalling.
Ian Blair has always had quite an evasive relationship with the truth and these extracts emphasise that. He seems to be trying to rewrite history because a lot of what he says flies in the face of what the jury at the inquest said.
We are all shocked that Ian Blair is somehow trying to resurrect some kind of respectability. Everyone just wishes he would leave it alone. It is quite insulting to bring it all up again.
Moreover if Blair really believed that the "decisions of everybody else" were really at fault, why did he promote Cressida Dick, who was in charge on the day, to Assistant Commissioner?
It's worth remembering too that, whilst the coroner at Jean's inquest shamefully refused to allow the jury to make up their own minds about whether there had been an unlawful killing, jury members delivered a strong critique of the police and its failings within the limited choices available to them. They tried their best to deliver a fair verdict by saying that they do not believe that the police gave a warning before shots were fired, or that Jean advanced towards firearms officers in the tube train.
Jean's family said immediately after the inquest:
Sir Ian Blair has repeatedly evaded any responsibility for the killing of an innocent man, by misleading the public in the aftermath of the shooting so that no-one in his police force is held to account over the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes.It seems that some things haven't changed and I thought one comment on the Mail website sums up Blair's latest efforts extremely well: "it's like a reckless gambler having lost all his money saying if he had won he would be a millionaire." Quite.