Page last updated at 17:17 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 18:17 UK

Menezes officers 'not at fault'

Jean Charles de Menezes
Mr de Menezes was killed the day after the 21 July 2005 failed bombings

The police did nothing "wrong or unreasonable" on the day that Jean Charles de Menezes was killed, the senior officer in charge has said.

But Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick did tell his inquest she felt "terrible" about what happened.

Mr de Menezes, 27, was shot after being mistaken for a terror suspect in 2005.

Ms Dick said his behaviour on the day had contributed to that mistake, but a spokesman for his family said her comments were "insulting".

Ms Dick, who was designated officer for Operation Kratos - the Metropolitan Police's codename for special tactics to deal with a suicide bomber - was asked by Nicholas Hilliard, QC for the coroner: "What went wrong?"

'Terrible circumstances'

She replied: "One thing that clearly went wrong was that we didn't manage as a nation to prevent those attacks.

"Mr de Menezes was a victim of terrible and extraordinary circumstances that day and afterwards.

"He was extremely unfortunate to live in the same block as Hussain Osman, desperately unfortunate to look very like Hussain Osman, and the things he did in all innocence, the way he behaved getting on and off the bus, contributed to our assessment - my assessment - of him as a bomber.

"But if you are asking me did we do anything wrong or unreasonable, then I don't think we did."

Ms Dick was asked how she felt when she heard that the wrong man had been killed.

Jean Charles de Menezes's mother and brother arrive at the inquest

"Terrible. It was a terrible thing to happen," she answered, choking back tears.

"I set out that morning to protect the people of London and to save people, and the last thing I wanted to do is have an innocent person shot.

"But that is what happened and I regret it deeply."

The coroner, Sir Michael Wright, was told by Ms Dick that between 2003 and 2007 she was involved in overseeing serious firearms operations "literally on a daily basis".

"I think I probably had the highest volume under my command by far of the most high risk and complex firearms operations," she said.

Victim's mother

On 22 July 2005 Mr de Menezes, an innocent electrician, was shot seven times in the head at close range by two specialist officers after he got on a train at Stockwell Tube station in south London.

Officers had suspected he was failed suicide bomber Hussain Osman. Osman and three others tried to attack transport in London on 21 July 2005.

For the first time during the inquest, Mr de Menezes's mother was in court to hear evidence given about her son's death.

[This] adds to the shameful perception that the Metropolitan Police has no regrets and shows no remorse
Justice4Jean campaign

Otone de Menezes, 63, flew into Britain from Brazil with her older son, Giovani de Menezes, 36, on Friday, but broke down and had to leave the courtroom during Ms Dick's testimony.

As well as hearing from Ms Dick, over the coming weeks Mrs de Menezes will hear evidence from the two officers who shot her son - known only as C1 and C2.

Last week Det Ch Supt Jon Boutcher told the inquest jury: "I cannot see anything we could have done that would have changed the course of the tragedy of Mr de Menezes."

He also admitted he could not rule out someone being killed in a similar situation again.

A spokesman for the Justice4Jean campaign said: "It has been highly alarming and extremely insulting for the bereaved Menezes family to hear evidence at the inquest from senior officers in the Metropolitan Police that they did nothing wrong and that a similar tragedy could happen again.

"This continued rebuttal of any wrongdoing on their part only adds to the shameful perception that the Metropolitan Police has no regrets and shows no remorse."

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