JURORS at the Old Bailey last week were told that the Metropolitan Police force was guilty of "fundamental failures" in its "duty of care" in the case of the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, an entirely innocent man who was mistaken for a terrorist suspect. The Met denies the charges.
This is a unique case being brought under public health and safety laws after an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It is expected to last around six weeks.
The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to bring charges against any individual. Chief constable Sir Ian Blair will not give evidence and nor will the two firearms officers who fired the fatal shots.
But the office of the commissioner of police is charged with failing to ensure that the public and de Menezes were not put at risk during the surveillance, pursuit and detention of a suspected suicide bomber.
The court can impose an unlimited fine against the Met – and it could be millions – but it will be paid by taxpayers. The case opened on Monday; with the prosecution telling the court that the shooting at Stockwell Tube station on south London on 22nd July 2005 happened because of "fundamental failures" in planning.
Clare Montgomery QC, prosecuting, said the "disaster" of the Brazilian electrician’s death was "not the result of a fast-moving operation going suddenly and unpredictably awry".
"It was the result of fundamental failures to carry out a planned operation in a safe and reasonable way," she said.
"We say that the police planned and carried out an operation that day so badly that the public were needlessly put at risk and Jean Charles was killed as a result."