Friday, August 26, 2005

The mystery of the missing footage

LONDON Underground managers and police officers last week clashed over the disappearance of crucial CCTV footage at Stockwell station on the afternoon of 22nd July, when the innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes was shot and killed by undercover police, who mistook him for a terrorist suspect.
Two Brazilian government officials arrived in London last Monday to conduct their own investigation after last week’s revelations that the police allowed a host of misleading and inaccurate versions of the events at Stockwell to prevail.
The leaks came from the investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Authority (IPCC) and show that, far from fleeing the police and vaulting the ticket barrier, Menezes, unaware that police were tracking him, entered the station calmly, took up a free newspaper, used his oyster card to go through the ticket barrier normally and walked on to the train normally.
He was not wearing a padded jacket but a light denim jacket on that hot day and police had overpowered him before he was shot eight times in the head and shoulder.
Yet just hours after the shooting Metropolitan Police chief Sir Ian Blair told the world’s press the misleading stories about a hot pursuit into the Tube station, the ticket barrier being vaulted and the padded jacket that might have concealed a suicide bomb.
Now Sir Ian Blair says he was not even told that his officers had shot the wrong man until 24 hours after the event.
Police are denying a cover up but the disappearance of the CCTV footage is all the more damning.
A police document states that none of the cameras at the scene of the shooting were working on 22nd July. They told the IPCC that the cameras in the station and on the train were not operating on that day. This is totally at odds with what the Tube station manager says and the company that operates the station – Tubelines.
The police written statement says: “Stockwell station and environs has been surveyed and all existing CCTV has been seized.
“During the course of this it has been established that although there was onboard CCTV in the train, due to previous incidents the hard drive has been removed and not replaced.
“It has also been established that there has been a technical problem with the CCTV equipment on the relevant platform and no footage exists.”
Since then Tubelines has told the press: “We are not aware of any faults on CCTV cameras at that station on that day. Nothing of that nature has been reported to us.”
However one union official pointed out that Met officers had emptied the cameras the day before, in order to investigate the failed 21st July attempted bombings.
The Tubelines report says that Jean de Menezes would have passed eight cameras – two in the station entrance pointing at the ticket barrier, another two at different points on the escalator and another at the bottom. More cameras at each end of the platform would also have caught him on film.
Meanwhile, from his holiday resort in Barbados, Prime Minister Tony Blair is giving full support to Sir Ian Blair.
But former Cabinet Minister Clare Short said that it was now clear the public had been misled about the shooting. “We’ve been lied to. This should be bigger than just calling for Sir Ian Blair to go. We need to find out exactly what happened. Who was telling us the lies?”