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August 22, 2005

Tim Hames on Ian Blair.

Tim Hames lists out the reasons why Sir Ian Blair should resign:

By contrast, the case against Sir Ian’s conduct is rather more robust. His claim that he was “in the dark” about the de Menezes shooting until 10.30 the next morning is astonishing. There were television reports from “police sources” that the man killed at Stockwell was not one of the four suspects of the failed July 21 bombings being broadcast from mid-afternoon of the day that it occurred. Mr de Menezes carried documents which identified who he was, where he lived and what he did for a living. That the Commissioner was not more inquisitive about the man into whom his officers had pumped eight bullets is staggering. It is not exactly a confession which should leave the public confident about his competence.

Then there is the issue of the briefings that the police gave the media about their victim. These were not merely inaccurate but deliberately embellished. Sir Ian swears that he had nothing to do with them and, less persuasively, that he could not correct them later. I have no grounds to dispute his account yet it is irrelevant what his role was. In the aftermath of what was obviously a catastrophic mistake, sections of the police felt at liberty to “spin” their own story and in recent days the surveillance branch and the firearms squad appear almost to be at war with each other. None of this would have taken place under a Commissioner who was respected by those beneath him. The strong and lasting impression left is that Sir Ian is not in control of those notionally under his command.

Finally, there is precedent. Incidents such as these are, properly, rare in Britain. One newspaper investigation yesterday could highlight only 14 examples in a decade where the police have killed an individual in conditions that resulted in their decision being disputed.

In the vast majority of these, the person concerned had a potential weapon, carried an imitation weapon or had seemed to have a weapon in his possession. The closest comparison to the de Menezes tragedy was an instance of mistaken identity in January 1998, when a man was shot by Sussex Police despite being naked and unarmed. Negligence was admitted, and the Chief Constable, Paul Whitehouse, felt compelled to retire.

My take on it is perhaps a little more old fashioned. I’ll leave aside all of the conspiracy theories, even my own basic thought that having armed police units is in itself an error.

Something went wrong with the system. Someone, somewhere, must be held accountable for that. It doesn’t matter that "we are at war", whenever and wherever there is such an error there has to be someone to carry the can, for if there is not then there is no sense of responsibility in the system. And as the man at the top that’s Sir Ian.

Buh Bye, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

August 22, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Tracked on Aug 23, 2005 1:13:53 PM


Until the London Bombings, Sir Ian Diversity Blair known for all the wrong reasons. This is the man who thought that the biggest issue facing him was not having enough, Black, Brown, Gay, Single Parent, ____, _____ (fill in the blanks with your own favourite minority) police on the force. He was more worried about Police using terminology that might be understood as racist, homophobic or whatever this week's ism was, than the stabbing to death, shooting and muggings of ordinary people. Facts like minorities suffer more from crime were unimportant.

Now faced with a real crisis, where hiding behind diversity and inclusiveness cannot help him, it is little wonder than he is out of his depth. He was never fit to run a single police station let alone Britain's biggest force. All this latest debacle has done is highlight his total incapability.

Sir Ian Blair should resign and preferably yesterday. The only possible argument against is that the Met has not filled its quota of Useless Twats, and could therefore be sued for Useless Twatism.

Posted by: EU Serf | Aug 22, 2005 10:51:37 AM

The comparison with the Brighton Shooting doesn't really stand up either. The guy in those circumstances was a known drug dealer known to frequently be armed and have used violence against police and others. The split second reaction of the swat team was he was reaching for a weapon and the politicans, chief constable etc hung the individuals out to dry, suspending them pending a murder trial. After 2 years this was thrown out. The individual officers who were briefed that this guy was armed and dangerous had their careers ruined while their bosses and the politicains smarmed steadily onwards and upwards.

Posted by: Mark T | Aug 22, 2005 10:59:02 AM

"my own basic thought that having armed police units is in itself an error"

Its an error to be able to defend yourself? Its an error for highly trained officers to be able to deal with dangerous armed men with... arms?

I am wondering what you think the police should do when faced with an armed and dangerous person? What indeed should they do if its a terrorists strapped with explosives? Blow a whistle?

The fact that someone lost their life in an accident shouldnt turn common sense on its head. Its a terrible thing that Mr Menezes was killed in that heightened atmosphere of tension. Under pressure, with incredibly high stakes, things obviously went wrong - and we need to find out why so we can learn from it.

Knee-jerk "somone has got to pay" calls for media-justice are not going to help us - nor protect us from those amongst our community that really *do* want to cause us harm - in bulk.

Sir Ian had a lot of courage to admit not only that a mistake had been made but more importantly, it could possibly happen again. We have to blame the terrorists for creating this environment, but when people strap on explosives with the intent on killing as many people as they can, the available courses of action for police to protect us narrow somewhat.

An aquaintance of mine worked at one of the hospitals where many of the July 7 terrorist victims were brought. The most common procedure that day was to remove shrapnel from the victims. And do you know what the most common shrapnel material was? Human bone. Think about that.

Lets keep that in mind when we think of what the police have to do.

Tim adds: Excuse me a moment for I’m about to say something terribly objectionable.

1) Number of about to be bombers killed by armed police, thus saving lives.


2) Number of not bombers, not about to kill anyone, killed by armed police.


3) Number of lives saved by armed police.


4) Number of lives lost to armed police.


Your statement:

"Its an error to be able to defend yourself? Its an error for highly trained officers to be able to deal with dangerous armed men with... arms?"

Yes, apparently so.

Posted by: Nigel | Aug 28, 2005 10:15:50 PM