Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Thursday, 1 November 2007

Sir Ian Blair's statement in full

London's Metropolitan Police force has been found guilty of endangering the public over the shooting dead of a man officers mistook for a suicide bomber.

Here is the statement of Met police commissioner Sir Ian Blair in full:

The death of Jean Charles de Menezes was a tragedy.

He was an innocent man.

The Metropolitan Police service has apologised to the family and friends of Mr de Menezes many times in the past.

Once more I express my deep regrets for his death.

The Metropolitan Police have been fond guilty of a breach of health and safety legislation in relation to the death of Mr de Menezes.

As far as we know, this is the first time that such legislation has been applied to fast-moving police operations where the public are in danger.

In large part, it was concern over the implications of applying health and safety legislation to such an operation which led the Metropolitan Police to plead not guilty.

Peter Clarke - the national co-ordinator of terrorist investigations - and I have been in court to listen to the verdict of the jury and the observations of Mr Justice Henriques.

What we are going to do now do is to take time to consider whether and how any of our current operating practices need to be altered in the light of this conviction.

Our first priority, as always, remains the safety of the public.

It is important to remember that no police officer set out that day to shoot an innocent man.

I am certain that this death was the culmination of actions by many hands, all of whom were doing their best to handle the terrible threat facing London on that day - a race against time to find the failed suicide bombers of the day before.

I echo the observations of the trial judge that a number of officers involved in this case behaved with exemplary bravery.

I also want to express my support for all officers involved in counter-terrorist work across the UK, including Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, about whom the jury has specifically asked that it be noted that no culpability attaches to her as a result of their verdict.

I want to make clear that the people of London should have full confidence in the Met's ability to deal professionally with dangerous and difficult situations.

We do so every day.

In the past 12 months, for instance, we have responded to nearly 10,000 calls potentially involving firearms.

Police have fired their weapons on three occasions.

In the last four years, together with our partners, we have disrupted and detected a dozen planned terrorist attacks on the United Kingdom, mostly involving this city.

Furthermore, our policies and processes for dealing with life-threatening situations have recently been commended by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.

By contrast, the difficulties shown in this trial were those of an organisation struggling, on a single day, to get to grips with a simply extraordinary situation - its greatest operational challenge in a generation.

The judge noted that this was an isolated breach of law in quite extraordinary circumstances.

Seven days later, they successfully arrested the failed bombers of 21 July.

The operation to secure those arrests involved many of the officers who were involved in the operation concerning Scotia Road.

As the judge noted, the failures alleged were not sustained or repeated.

This case thus provides no evidence at all of systematic failure by the Metropolitan Police service and I therefore intend to continue to lead the Met in its increasingly successful efforts to reduce crime and to deter and disrupt terrorist activities in London and elsewhere in the UK.

At the same time, it will be my personal task to ensure that the lessons learnt from the death of Mr de Menezes are incorporated into our training, our policy and our operations.



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