Friday, December 12, 2008

Latest Menezes insult

Last week, you will have heard, it was reported that the judge presiding over the inquest into the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes told the jury that they were prohibited from reaching a verdict of unlawful killing. This was a disgusting low point in a story that has included lies from day one, calculated smears directed against the deceased victim, seemingly endless cover-ups, and the most obscene rhetoric from the former Met commissioner, Sir Ian Blair.

Now, it seems that we were not even told the whole truth about what subsequently happened. A gag order imposed by the judge meant that we were not informed of protests made by relatives of Menezes, who quite rightly disputed the judge's claim to be acting impartially or fairly. They decided to withdraw their cooperation from the inquest on that basis. At a certain point in Judge Wright's summing up before the jury, he instructed the public and media to get out of the court - offering no other explanation than that he had reached a 'sensitive' point in his summing up. The family and members of the public refused, and a stand-off ensued for one hour and forty minutes. When the public were eventually cleared out, the family made a decision to try to storm the court, to register their conviction that any impartiality in the process had disappeared. All of this drama had to be suppressed in order for the charade to proceed, undisturbed.

Today, the jury - denied the option of finding unlawful killing - has delivered an open verdict, rather than clear the police. That the police expect to draw a line under the killing after this atrocious procedure, with this non-verdict, is an insult too far.