Every now and then I try and see if I can see a slightly silver shadow to the whole "de Menezes" case. Generally speaking without much success. Today's news (via Samizdata) that the CCTV cameras that would be able to prove (or disprove) the various claims about the behaviour of de Menezes and the police mysteriously suffered a fault at the same critcal moment and ended up recording blank tapes really does leave me completely gobsmacked.
Senior Tube sources have told the Evening Standard that three CCTV cameras trained on the platform at Stockwell station were in full working order. The source spoke out after it emerged that police had returned the tapes taken from the cameras saying" "These are no good to us. They are blank."
A station log book has no reported faults concerning the CCTV cameras which would have been expected to record the crucial moments as Mr. de Menezes approach the train on 22 July.
I thought the Observer's revelations about the lack of communication between different bits of the Met was pretty damning as if the original IPCC leaks were not enough, but this blank tape thing is akin to "the dog ate my homework" in terms of feebleness. I think many people who felt, as I do, that "shoot to kill" was justifiable as a policy, are absolutely furious that the police seem to have tried to cover up a fairly basic miscommunication between different groups instead of coming clean. We feel betrayed by our instinctive feeling that the English police would not stoop to such a level of institutional cowardice and I, for one, begin to have significantly more sympathy for the various protest groups that claim that the Met is institutionally racist, sexist etc. because I see that the Met seems to lie as fluidly as any politician.
All in all Tim Hames' editorial today is looking more and more prescient. Sir Ian Blair is a disgrace to his uniform and needs to go. If on the one hand he was "misled" by his underlings and uninformed about the true state of affairs for almost 24 hours then he is shown to be a total incompetant. If, on the other hand, he did know then he is as guilty of attemoting a cover up as any one else. The gripping hand is that the UK does not need such a spineless cretin in charge of its capital's police force.