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Irene Stanley: ‘We will keep fighting for justice’

This article is over 18 years, 5 months old
Harry Stanley was shot dead by armed police in Hackney, east London, six years ago. Police said they mistook the chair leg he was carrying home for a shotgun.
Issue 1974
Respect MP George Galloway has backed Irene Stanley’s campaign (Pic: Guy Smallman)
Respect MP George Galloway has backed Irene Stanley’s campaign (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Harry Stanley was shot dead by armed police in Hackney, east London, six years ago. Police said they mistook the chair leg he was carrying home for a shotgun.

Now the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have decided that no police officer will face prosecution for the killing.

Justice campaigners have accused the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, of applying political pressure on the CPS.

The decision was highly sensitive, coming in the wake of the shooting dead by armed police of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes in south London.

Irene Stanley, Harry’s widow, reacted angrily to the decision.

She told Socialist Worker, “I feel we’ve got no human rights. I’ve waited months for this decision and I feel they should have been charged with something.

“For six years my family and I have been struggling for justice. Nothing can bring Harry back, but we thought we could win justice and help other families.

“I’m still fighting. I’m going to take legal advice this week on my next steps.”

Irene and her family have already been through two inquests into the shooting.

In the first, in 2002, the jury were not allowed to return a verdict of unlawful killing. They returned a unanimous open verdict.

Following a high court appeal a new inquest took place in October 2004. The jury heard new ballistics evidence and returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

For a moment it seemed like the Stanley family might win justice.

The two officers who killed Harry Stanley — Neil Sharman and Kevin Fagan — were suspended. Armed police officers in the Met’s SO19 squad, responded by organising a “strike” in protest.

The second inquest verdict was later quashed by the high court.

The case of Harry Stanley has highlighted the difficulties faced by families of those killed by the police. Not a single officer has been successfully prosecuted for any of the 30 fatal shootings by armed police in the past 12 years.

“Shoot to kill has existed for years, but you just can’t get people prosecuted,” said Irene. “I’ve no faith in the system. English law is terrible and it needs to be changed.

“You have police investigated by police. And we’re just an ordinary working class family — we don’t have the kind of money that they have.”

Irene says that the families involved in these cases have drawn strength from working together.

She has recently met with the family of Jean Charles de Menezes.

The de Menezes and Stanley families were to join the annual United Friends and Families march in central London this Saturday.

“We’ll be carrying a banner against Shoot to Kill. We believe we have to change this policy,” said Irene.

The annual United Families and Friends campaign march is set to take place on Saturday of this week. See Meetings & events for details.

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