Page last updated at 17:16 GMT, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 18:16 UK

Mother 'betrayed' by inquest move

Azelle Rodney
Azelle Rodney's death was investigated by the IPCC

A mother waiting for an inquest into the death of her son, shot by police three months before Jean Charles de Menezes, says she feels "betrayed".

Azelle Rodney, 24, died after the car he was travelling in was stopped by armed officers in Edgware, north London, on 30 April 2005.

A coroner had said sensitive evidence made an inquest impossible.

Now Susan Alexander says she has been left in limbo by the government's plans to drop secret inquests.

While the family do not support secret inquests, they are keen to have a hearing as soon as possible - but will now have to wait for further legislation.

Daniel Machover, a solicitor representing Mr Rodney's mother Susan Alexander, said she felt "betrayed" because the government had reneged on a promise to push through legislation which would allow her son's inquest to take place.

She is in a desperate situation. She doesn't understand how she has got sucked into a matter of high politics. She just wants closure
Daniel Machover,
Solicitor for Azelle Rodney's mother

The clause in the Counter-Terrorism Bill would have allowed ministers to remove juries, relatives and the public, from inquests.

The change was intended to stop sensitive information, such as details of phone-taps, becoming known.

But the Home Office said the plans had not been completely abandoned and would be in a "forthcoming" coroners' bill, expected to be announced in the Queen's Speech later this year.

Last year, a coroner said he could not hold a public inquest into Mr Rodney's death as police indicated they could not allow sensitive material, believed to include evidence obtained by phone tapping, to be disclosed even to the coroner.

Police are known to have been keeping surveillance on the car in which Mr Rodney was a back seat passenger on the day he was shot.

Two other men in the car, Wesley Lovell, 26, and Frank Graham, 24, were later jailed for drugs and firearms offences. Their trial heard that three guns were found in the car.

Mr de Menezes, 27, was shot by police who mistook him for one of the failed 21 July 2005 London suicide bombers.

'Total fiasco'

Mr Machover said that while he welcomed the decision to drop secret inquests, he was angry that the situation left Mrs Alexander in limbo.

He said: "This is a total fiasco. The government has reneged on its promise and it has done it for reason of high politics."

Mr Machover said of his client: "She is in a desperate situation. She doesn't understand how she has got sucked into a matter of high politics. She just wants closure."

He said he was now working with several peers in the hope of putting forward a new clause which could be included in the Counter-Terrorism Bill and would allow phone-tapping evidence to be heard at an inquest under certain conditions.

Under his plan the evidence could be heard by the jury, by the lawyers and by the relatives of the deceased and he said existing rules already enable a coroner to exclude the press and public on grounds of national security.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The government is aware of the issues raised by this inquest and we recognise that in a very small number of inquests a change to the law may be required. We are proposing to legislate as soon as is practicable."





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