Anorak News | A Greek Tragedy

A Greek Tragedy

by | 19th, August 2005

‘THE shooting dead of Jean Charles de Mendez by the British police is turning into a Greek tragedy.

Sensible shoes (model’s own)

Today the Mail tells us that the killing of the Brazilian electrician was part of Operation Kratos, the force’s shoot-to-kill policy.

That the aggressive ancient Greek spirit of strength, might, power and sovereign rule should be chosen to lend his name to the war on terror may have something to do with one Commander Cressida Dick, the woman who sanctioned the operation.

The Mail profiles this classically-minded copper, with a name rooted in ancient Greek history, informing its readers that she was brought up and educated at Oxford, and is regarded at Scotland Yard as one of the “new breed of intellectuals” on the way to the top.

Her hobbies include “the countryside”, gardening, and “country sports”. “When not in uniform her favoured outfit is a smart, dark trouser suit.”

This is deeply fascinating stuff, and surely the Mail is right now pulling together a follow-up feature in which its readers will be told how they can dress like an off-duty copper.

But perhaps the most important thing is not that the woman, known among her colleagues as ‘Cress’, oversaw the killing of an innocent man, but that she earns £90,000 a year.

At least the paper think this is important, as if in some way earning a high wage reflects her ability to do the job. Perhaps if she earned £30,000 or even £45,000 a year, we’d more easily understand and forgive her mistakes.

And not just her errors, but those of her well-paid boss, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair. Accused of heading a cover up – Why was Mendez allowed to board the Tube train? Was he really wearing a bulky jacket? Did he vault the ticket barrier or not? – Blair rejects any notion of his resigning.

“The allegations strike to the heart of the integrity of the police and integrity of the Met and I fundamentally reject them,” says he. “There is no cover up.”

Surely much of the controversy can be cleared up by releasing CCTV images of the victim entering Stockwell Tube station in the wake of the failed attacks of July 21.

But until then, we have to make do with opinion, and the likes of the Sun’s cabbie with a crayon, Richard Littlejohn.

Referring to the police as the “poor bloody infantry”, albeit an infantry with helicopters, boats and horses, Littlejohn says that though the death of an innocent man is worthy of “our deepest sympathies”, we must in no way blame the police.

“It is said that he [Mendez] was not properly identified because the surveillance officer was taking a leak when Mr Mendez left the block of flats,” says Littlejohn, reminding us that this was the same block of flat where suspect Hussain Osman was believed to be hiding out.

“To those of my own profession who cite this call of nature as gross dereliction of duty, I would ask: have they never sloped off for a quiet gipsy’s while on a doorstep?”

That this argument is part of a piece designed as an address to a jury trying the police over the matter makes Littlejohn’s comments all the more pathetic.

If he were hired to put the case for the defence, the police would all be sent down as soon as the jury worked out that hacks rarely if ever go armed to a doorstep interview, and rarely if ever kill their target.

And then there’s the matter of how we’re led to believe the police are on top of the terror threat – unless one of their number needs the loo, in which case we should start screaming and run away as fast as we can.

This is perhaps why in the same paper readers are told that before any conclusions can be formed, the facts must be established. “If serious mistakes have been made, then a senior officer in the Met MUST carry the can,” says the Sun.

Quite so. But we won’t know what mistakes were made unless we’re told. And what we’re told isn’t up to us, the papers or any Greek gods…’

Posted: 19th, August 2005 | In: Tabloids Comment | TrackBack | Permalink