The Metropolitan Police Service has been plunged into crisis after Sir Ian Blair, the Met’s commissioner and Britain’s most senior police officer, was forced to resign by London mayor Boris Johnson.
Blair presided over a series of scandals at the Met, but it is the slaying of Jean Charles de Menezes that casts the longest shadow over his administration.
The innocent and unarmed Brazilian man was shot dead in Stockwell tube station on his way to work in July 2005.
Within 15 minutes of his death, an explosives expert had confirmed that Jean Charles was not the “suicide bomber” the police had claimed he was. His wallet and mobile phone had been found with evidence of his true identity.
Yet Blair claimed for a further 24 hours that Jean Charles had been involved in the terror plot – even though dozens of more junior police later admitted they knew within hours that Jean Charles had been innocent.
Blair explained that he had not lied but had been “almost totally uninformed”.
An inquest into Jean Charles’s death is currently underway. Cressida Dick, deputy assistant commissioner at the Met and the senior officer in charge of the operation that killed de Menezes gave evidence this week.
She insisted that none of the officers involved in the execution-style slaying had done anything wrong.
“Some of the things that Mr de Menezes did in all innocence – the way he behaved, the way he came off the bus and on the bus – contributed to my assessment of him as a bomber,” Dick told the inquest.
“He had the great misfortune of entering the same tube station that three of the bombers had entered the day before.
“If you ask me whether I think anybody did anything wrong or unreasonable in the operation, I don’t think they did.”
The other crisis rocking the police force is its racism. The Metropolitan Black Police Assocation said on Monday that it would “actively discourage” ethnic minority recruits from joining the Met amid claims of racism towards black and Asian officers.
One rotten apple may have gone – but it’s the whole barrel that needs throwing out.