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EDITIONS
 Saturday, 11 January, 2003, 11:31 GMT
Two-week siege could cost 1m
Eli Hall
Eli Hall died in the siege
The cost of the police operation at the 15-day siege in east London is estimated at 1m.

The stand-off, which ended in the death of gunman Eli Hall, caused massive disruption in Hackney, with the closure of four streets and the deployment of specialist armed officers in a round-the-clock operation.

Residents are attempting to return to normal life, after being forced either to stay indoors or stay away from their homes since Boxing Day.

Mr Hall, 32, used petrol to set fire to the building after vowing he would never be taken alive.

Metropolitan Police Commander Bob Quick
The police have an overriding duty to protect life, including the lives of the public and emergency services personnel

Commander Bob Quick

His charred remains, wrapped in a body bag, were wheeled out of the wreckage on a trolley on Friday night and driven away.

Pathologists now have the task of establishing whether he shot himself, or died in the fire.

The Metropolitan Police has admitted could take some time.

Police have admitted their decision to play a waiting game and not storm the building had been partially dictated by the Human Rights Act.

Mental problems

Commander Bob Quick said: "The police have an overriding duty to protect life, including the lives of the public and emergency services personnel.

"The Criminal Law Act 1967 and the Human Rights Act 2000 govern accountability of the police in these situations."

He added that the cost of deploying the armed officers for 15 days could be between 750,000 and 1m.

The officer also revealed that Mr Hall, whom neighbours claimed had mental problems, had warned that he would not be taken alive.

'Extremely volatile'

Cmdr Quick defended his actions, saying that police contained Hall, preventing an "extremely volatile" man who made frequent threats to his officers from threatening the public.

Police said Mr Hall was wanted in connection with a number of offences including drug dealing and shootings.

The siege began after Mr Hall fired at police when they tried to inspect his Toyota Celica car, which had been linked to a shooting incident.

The siege ended after a large fire spread through much of the building following an exchange of gunshots.

A 28-year-old man, believed to be Mr Hall's next-door neighbour, had been held hostage at gunpoint for 11 days before escaping on Sunday afternoon.

The siege lasted just two days less than one in 1968, where farmer John James was holed up for 17 days with a rusty shotgun in a derelict cottage near Weston-under-Redcastle, Shropshire.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Jane-Frances Kelly
"Police insist the operation wasn't a failure"
  Commander Bob Quick, Metropolitan Police
"We do not yet know precisely the cause of death"
  Local MP Diane Abbott
"I don't believe the police had any choice but to use the tactics they did"
  BBC London's Guy Smith
"It is still unclear exactly how Eli Hall died"

Click here to go to BBC London Online

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10 Jan 03 | England
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