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August 19, 2005

Who do you believe?

The leak recently of a document or documents from within the Police Complaints Authority relating to the case of the Brazilian shot by the Metroploitan Police, are disturbing for several reasons. Firstly, they are disturbing because it would appear that the first accounts we were given of this tragic incident were misleading to say the very least. Secondly they are disturbing because it suggests that someone within the Police Complaints Authority is pursuing a personal agenda to not only embarrass the police, but to influence the outcome of any final report and potentially the course of justice.

The major problem with any investigation is that you will have a mass of conflicting accounts from witnesses. It would be very easy to be selective about which accounts you leaked if your agenda was - say - to have the policy of "shoot to kill" changed. Select all the statements that seemingly deny the "official" line and feed these to a sympathetic journalist who will then emblazon his or her "scoop" across the front page of whatever rag they scribble for. Think "Rita Skeeter" in the Harry Potter books, the truth is not what counts, it is whether or not we can embarrass the establishment and sell more papers!

For all that these revelations are disturbing, I think it is even more important now for the whole mass of evidence to be examined, perhaps in a public inquiry, and to be assessed as a whole, and not in tiny fragments selected for their propaganda value rather than their importance. If there is one thing I have learned in investgating any event, it is not the differences in the witness statements that count, it is the matters on which there is convergence or agreement. In the fianl analysis, it is also necessary to know the sources and the individuals and a bit about their "issues". Only then can you fully analyse and assess the statements they are making, and only then can conclusions be drawn.

I sincerely hope that the person who leaked these documents is found - I suspect it will be a civilian employee who has an issue with uniformed and disciplined services - and that they are duly charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice - because that is what they have attempted to do. I hope, too, that the enquiries will continue on the issue at hand, it is vital that the whole truth in this matter be made public.

Justice must be seen to be done, and no individual in a position of trust within an enquiry team should consider themselves to be above the law or in possession of superior moral values. Both the Brazilian victim and the policemen involved have a right to justice; that will not come from some individual attempting to act as judge, jury, and court.

Posted by The Gray Monk at August 19, 2005 10:04 AM