DID YOU APPROVE A CHANGE TO SHOOT TO KILL? – Blair dodges reporter’s question

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‘Did you ever discuss or approve a change in the rules of engagement for British police to shoot to kill, shoot in the head policy?’

This was the question that was put to Prime Minister Blair yesterday at a joint press conference held after his lunch with French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

Blair evaded this question, instead answering the second half of the reporter’s question, which was: ‘Do you think an apology is appropriate to Brazil or the family of the Brazilian who lost his life?’

Blair replied: ‘We are all desperately sorry for the death of an innocent person.

‘And I understand entirely the feelings of the young man’s family.

‘But we also have to understand the police are doing their job in very, very difficult circumstances.’

He stressed: ‘And I think it’s important we give them every support and that we understand that, had the circumstances been different, and, for example, this had turned out to be a terrorist and they had failed to take that action, they would have been criticised the other way.

‘I think, therefore, at the same time as expressing sorrow and deep sympathy for the death that has happened, it’s important that we allow the police and support them in doing the job they have to do in order to protect people in this country.’

He had begun the press conference saying the two premiers had discussed ‘how we control the radical elements among the Muslim community both here and in France’.

Blair is meeting Tory leader Michael Howard and Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy today to discuss more draconian legislation in the ‘war on terror’.

Undaunted by the summary execution of an innocent member of the public, 27-year-old Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes, Blair, Howard and Kennedy are to discuss the introduction of internment without trial.

This follows a demand from the Association of Chief Police Officers, to raise the time limit for holding terror suspects without charge from the present limit of 14 days to 90 days.

Other items up for discussion are the use of phone and e-mail intercept evidence, new measures to outlaw ‘indirect incitement’ and ‘acts preparatory to terrorism’.

Meanwhile, the family of murdered man Jean Charles de Menezes have been speaking out as they prepare to sue the Metropolitan Police over his killing.

Alex Alves Pereira, who lives in the Tulse Hill flat he shared with his cousin untilhis untimely death, said the police ‘have to pay for this killing in many ways, because if they do not, they are going to kill many people.’

He added: ‘They just kill the first person they see, that’s what they did. They killed my cousin, they could kill anyone.’

Speaking from Brazil, another cousin, Maria do Socorro told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think they acted incompetently, like amateurs.

‘You would think the British police would be prepared, but they are panicking and seeing everyone as a suspect.

‘If you are going to have a war on terror, you have got to use brains to fight it not just brute force.’

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death.

At a police press conference yesterday afternoon, the chairman told reporters: ‘We are not going to talk about the shooting on Friday.’

He then introduced an Anti-Terror Squad officer who proceeded to ask for support and information from the public.

DAC Peter Clarke claimed one of the suspects for last Thursday’s attempted bombings lived at an address in north London, and said ‘as we speak, we are searching a number of addresses’.

Just before the police press conference a reporter said an armed police raid had taken place in north London and that there were no arrests.

The reporter added: ‘We knew about it earlier but were told to keep quiet about it until now.’

He concluded that the police had said nothing was discovered of vital importance.