Well, not any more. The Ian Tomlinson inquest has returned a verdict of unlawful killing. Good. The actions of the police officer concerned were entirely unacceptable. He is a bully and a coward, hiding behind a uniform. How does a police service claim to protect the public when at times it is that public which needs protection from them?
Let me make something clear. This is not an attack on a service which for the most part does its job and does it well, too often without thanks from those who should know better. My own brother was a Metropolitan Police officer for 32 years and I am intensely proud of the service he gave. The force he served in was not the parody the Met has become today. It was probably during the time of Sir Ian Blair (who in cahoots with his criminal namesake made a mockery of the concept of justice) that I began to realise that this force had got out of public control. When a member of the public, legally going about his business, can be executed by policemen acting under the orders of the Commissioner, there is no control left. Within hours both the Commissioner and the Prime Minister had openly declared that nothing illegal had happened, without recourse to even the pretence of a properly constituted and open enquiry. I refuse to live in a country where there is no ultimate accountability for public servants, in my employ. I will not accept that.
It's just a pity that the coroner in the Jean Charles de Menenez inquest didn't have the balls to stand up to political interference from the Blair twins. You might recall that, when the jury retired, they did so having been told by Sir Michael Wright that a verdict of unlawful killing was not an option. I thought that was the jury's job. perhaps it did not occur to Sir Michael that the inference of that interference is that we are asked to accept that shooting the wrong man is an entirely lawful activity as long as it's the police doing the shooting. That is probably that. It's pretty unlikely that de Menenez's relatives will ever see justice for his death. That must change. It must. It's worth reading http://s13.invisionfree.com/julyseventh/ar/t543.htm . For a piece written a year after the event, its conclusions truned out to be prophetic.I quote:
"If such protocols [referring to the shoot-to-kill policy] truly exist in this form, they are a crime. They are a crime for which those who established the shoot-to-kill orders, rather than their subordinates, bear responsibility. And for which, in a just world, they would be charged.
They won't be, of course. The shoot-to-kill policy is protected - as was Guantanamo over here - by the woolly bromides of the "war on terror." And those, of course, cannot be questioned."
Who can argue with that?
Meanwhile, today's verdict might pave the way for a prosecution of the man who seriously assaulted Ian Tomlinson, in all likelihood causing the internal bleeding which led to his death. Maybe today is the day when we start to take our country back.