YESTERDAY the capitalist state looked after its own, and decided that the two armed police officers who shot dead an unarmed man, Harry Stanley, in September 1999, not only were beyond the reach of the law but had in fact ‘acted reasonably’.
This coup de grace for all ideas that there is ‘bourgeois justice’ was delivered by the Crown Prosecution Service when it decided that ‘the prosecution evidence is insufficient to rebut the officers’ assertion that they were acting in self defence.’
For good measure it added: ‘We have also concluded that the threat which they believed they faced made the use of fatal force reasonable in the circumstances as they perceived them.’
The verdict of the CPS is a decisive support for the right of state forces to shoot-to-kill if state officials suspect that they face a threat.
The judgement of the CPS that ‘the threat which they believed they faced made the use of fatal force reasonable’, is in fact support for the line peddled by the Metropolitan Police Chief Blair, that armed police have the right to shoot-to-kill on the basis of a supposed but unproven threat.
It was Blair who said that an armed police gang had no alternative but to slaughter Jean de Menezes on July 22 2005 once they thought that he might be a suicide bomber. For good measure he added that the slaughter of an innocent could well be repeated and was a price that ‘we’ might have to pay in order to fight ‘terrorism’.
The CPS’ conclusion that the murder of Harry Stanley was ‘reasonable’ is a political verdict that was required by the state in order to be able to carry on with its shoot-to-kill operations.
In fact, the struggle over who was to blame for the murder of Harry Stanley has raged since September 1999 when the unarmed grandfather was murdered by armed police with a shot to the head.
In June 2002 an inquest returned an open verdict. In April 2003 the High Court ordered a new inquest, and in October 2004 an inquest returned an unlawful killing verdict.
In May 2005 there was a state demonstration against this verdict when London’s armed police officers (SO19) handed back their shooters and went on strike. This was followed by a judge quashing the second inquest verdict.
However, in June 2005 the two officers were arrested.
The two officers were questioned on suspicion of murder, manslaughter, gross negligence and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice after new forensic evidence emerged. There could not be more serious allegations and their arrest was supported by the CPS.
It said that ‘new evidence has come to light’.
Now the same CPS has found that the new evidence was not evidence at all, and that moreover the killing was not murder, not even manslaughter, and was in fact ‘reasonable’. The officers should obviously be promoted, decorated and compensated – after all they thought they faced a threat and acted quite ‘reasonably’ according to the CPS!
The men and women of SO19 have been given a vote of confidence, and another strike or mutiny has been avoided. The armed police have been told by the CPS that a perception that they face a threat gives them a license to kill, and immunity from prosecution.
The decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute for murder and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice is directly linked to the slogan of the Labour government and Prime Minister Blair that the ‘rules of the game have changed’, meaning that a strong dictatorial state machine is needed and that this machine has to be supported through thick and thin, no matter what.
There is only one way to deal with such a murderous capitalist state machine, and that is to smash it up with a socialist revolution.