The jury at the inquest into the death of Jean-Charles de Menezes, erroneously shot by police in July 2005 in the wake of the of 7th July London bombings, today delivered an 'open verdict'.
The coroner had ruled out a verdict of 'unlawful killing' (a decision I thought outrageous at the time I heard about it) and had left the jury with only two options, being an 'open verdict' or 'lawful killing'. All the eye-witnesses called to give evidence had flatly contradicted the evidence given by several of the involved police personnel that they had called out a warning to Mr de Menezes before killing him and that he had started to walk toward them before being shot. The jury did not believe the testimony of the police; nor did I. My impression is that it was a concocted story after the event to try and justify their criminally reckless behaviour.
Given the choices of verdict available to them, the jury chose the only one which remotely fitted what had occurred. I do not know what pressure, if any, may have been brought to bear upon the coroner, although I'm afraid I believe that some pressure must have been applied to him to persuade him to 'hobble' the deliberations of the jury and to prevent them having the option to issue a verdict of 'unlwaful killing'.
The family of Mr de Menezes are quite correct to describe the inquest proceedings as a 'whitewash'. The only crumbs of comfort I can draw from this sorry affair are that the jury refused to be cowed by the restrictions placed upon them by the coroner and that Sir Ian Blair is no longer Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.