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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 July 2006, 20:00 GMT 21:00 UK
Will there be charges over Menezes?
By Jon Silverman
Legal affairs analyst

Jean Charles de Menezes
Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead at Stockwell Tube station

As prosecutors reveal they are considering whether to charge three police officers with manslaughter over the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, what is the likelihood police officers will find themselves in the dock?

The IPCC is under a statutory duty to pass on a report to the Crown Prosecution Service where it believes a criminal offence may have been committed.

It was always expected that, in the Stockwell shooting, such a threshold would be passed. But before bringing charges, the CPS has to consider both the public interest and the prospect of securing convictions.

History suggests that the second test is a formidable one. No police firearms officer has ever been convicted, at a criminal trial, of shooting a civilian in England and Wales and it would be a surprise if charges were brought against the three officers named in the IPCC report.

That leaves open the question of disciplinary offences, which would be a matter for the Metropolitan Police.

Whatever decision is made by the CPS, there will be intense interest in the IPCC report on the shooting

Given that the report almost certainly paints a bleak picture of communications failures, flawed intelligence and command and control problems, some of the officers deployed in the specialist firearms unit and in the Gold Command operation at Scotland Yard may be vulnerable.

Ten police officers were questioned under criminal caution. IPCC investigators were also given access to the army surveillance team, from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, which was watching the block of flats from where Mr Menezes began his fateful journey.

If it is felt appropriate, the military authorities would deal with any disciplinary action against the soldiers.

In all, the investigators, led by a former police officer with 30 years experience, took 600 statements.

A number of the witnesses to the shooting were re-interviewed, having already been questioned by Metropolitan Police officers.

Sir Ian Blair
A second report into Sir Ian Blair is under way

Whatever decision is made by the CPS, there will be intense interest in the IPCC report on the shooting (a second IPCC report examines the handling of the aftermath by the Met Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair).

It may not be published for several months but it will be highly revealing.

It will deal with the three-day delay in investigators getting access to the scene of the killing and the absence of some CCTV tapes at Stockwell tube station which also hampered the inquiry.

The implementation of the controversial Operation Kratos policy on confronting suspected suicide bombers is subjected to critical analysis.

The IPCC has made recommendations on the operational lessons to be learned from the Stockwell mistake.

In due course, these will go to the Metropolitan Police, the police authority, the Home Office and Association of Police Officers.

But the timing of publication will be determined by any criminal or disciplinary charges.

And perhaps casting the longest shadow is the fate of the Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, which is likely to be settled by the outcome of the Stockwell 2 Report into what he knew and when after the botched operation took place.

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