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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Menezes: Blair still spinning to save his job

Home Secretary, GLA Deputy smear dead man's campaign Met officers placed 'bulky jacket' story in the press Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair is continuing an aggressive PR campaign in the face of his growing isolation and calls for his resignation over his officers' killing of Jean Charles de Menezes. Interviews with Sir Ian appeared yesterday on BBC radio, and today in the News of the World, while Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, and the Deputy Leader of the Greater London Assembly publicly smeared the campaign by the dead man's family and supporters. Blair took the opportunity of his media blitz to deny it was any such thing. "The one thing the Metropolitan Police Service does not do is spin," he told the BBC during his exclusive interview, scheduled immediately following the damaging revelations earlier in the week by ITV News. However the Sunday Telegraph gives a detailed account of the explicit media briefings given by the Met once de Menezes' innocence had been established:

"At first the police were convinced that they had "shot one of the [July 21] terrorists". Within hours, they realised that they had not. The claim was changed: Mr Menezes was not, in fact, one of the four would-be bombers who had tried to blow up three trains and a bus on July 21. But he was "a player helping the 21/7 gang".

"A day later, the police realised that they had wrongly targeted and killed an innocent man: it was then that journalists say they started to receive calls from officers at the Met "spinning us lines which would distract attention from the fact that the cops had shot an innocent man"."

The Telegraph piece also makes it clear that Blair faces opposition within the Met and from political figures in the Conservative party who regard him as too close to the Government.

Meanwhile police sources have told the Observer that the surveillance team monitoring the block of flats where de Menezes lived, knew that he did not pose a threat, but they were overruled by the armed officers who later killed him.

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