‘WE WANT THE TRUTH’ – say Menezes family lawyers

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A group of cheerful and determined pickets on the grass verge near the Gate Gourmet factory on Tuesday morning
A group of cheerful and determined pickets on the grass verge near the Gate Gourmet factory on Tuesday morning

Lawyers for the family of Jean Charles de Menezes yesterday said they wanted the truth, and answers to ‘lies that have been told’ about his execution by police.

Defence solicitors Gareth Peirce and Harriet Wistrich met with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) yesterday morning to demand answers to a number of questions concerning the shooting and that the inquiry be ‘carried out quickly’.

Peirce said the meeting was prompted by the dramatic revelations of IPCC witness statements that contradict the original claims made by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair and other senior officers.

At an impromptu press conference after their meeting with the IPCC outside the solicitors’ office, Peirce said: ‘There have been lies that have been told and there have been lies that have been allowed to remain uncorrected.’

She emphasised: ‘We want to know the lies that have been told, why they’ve been told, by whom.

‘Our concern is that this inquiry goes from the bottom to the top.’

She said ‘one of the questions asked from the beginning’ was whether the police did challenge the young Brazilian before shooting him as they claimed.

‘We asked how did the police identify him? What did they say? How did they identify him when he came out of the flat?

‘In fact, we learned yesterday there was no proper identification.’

Solicitor Harriet Wistrich said that since the TV revelations, ‘the family has become more alarmed about what has happened, and it is very important for them to get the truth.’

Asked if the solicitors had been ‘kept in the dark’ Peirce replied: ‘We knew no more than the press knew, in fact we learned what we know from the press’.

Asked was there a possibility of criminal charges, Wistrich said: ‘That’s the whole point of the investigation to see if any criminal charges arise.’

Peirce stressed: ‘It was an incident that should never have happened.’

Asked what the family thought about seeing press pictures of de Menezes lying in a pool of blood on the Tube and the reports of events, Peirce said: ‘In fact, a large part of what was known about the investigation, the family have provided themselves.

‘They knew Jean Charles wasn’t wearing a bulky jacket. They knew he wasn’t carrying a bag. They knew he would not have run from the police. They knew this from the beginning. What’s happening now is confirmation.’

She added: ‘It is chaotic. What we’ve asked the IPCC to find out is how much of it is incompetence or negligence, including gross negligence and how much of it may be something more sinister.’

Demanding that the IPCC investigation be concluded quickly, Peirce said that ‘as defence lawyers we know that’s possible, we don’t want it sat on for years by the Crown Prosecution Service as we have experienced with deaths in custody’.

• Second News story

TGWU warns – don’t victimise BA workers

THE Transport and General Workers Union issued a warning to British Airways yesterday.

It said that if it was now seen to be the case that the company ‘were intent on the victimisation of yet more members of the Heathrow family’ after the sacking of 670 low paid, mainly Asian and women workers at Gate Gourmet, the union would support ‘legal industrial action to protect victimised members’.

The union confirmed that Tony Woodley, the union’s General Secretary, has written to BA chief executive Rod Eddington to formally respond to the announcement ‘of an investigation into last week’s unofficial industrial action, including the unprecedented establishment of a “confidential” line for employees to report on fellow employees.

‘We do not condone what happened last week and we took appropriate steps to end the unofficial action,’ said Woodley in the letter.

‘Now, just at a time when we are working hard to find a settlement, your announcement yesterday has caused great resentment on the part of those that we represent.

‘They, like me, thought that your prime concern was to find a settlement, looking forward and not looking back. That is why I am genuinely disappointed over what you have done.’

Referring to links between sacked Gate Gourmet workers, many of whom used to be employed when BA ran its own catering operation, and BA staff across Heathrow, Woodley added: ‘Would it not be a bitter irony if, in the same family, in the same household, that a husband was now victimised for exercising his conscience by standing up for his wife?

‘The former a British Airways employee, and the latter employed by Gate Gourmet. Were that to happen, this union would support legal industrial action to protect victimised members.’

The response from the Gate Gourmet picket line to the BA witchhunting tactic was unanimous.

‘The whole airport must come out to defeat victimisation,’ locked out TGWU member Scher told News Line.

Sher added: ‘BA members came out to support us and now BA is threatening to victimise them. So the only answer is for all workers to come out, the whole airport, all out together.’

Nimish, another picket, said: ‘If they get away with what they have done to us then BA workers will be next. All they want to do is replace us with cheap labour and they want to do the same with the BA workers and then the rest of the airport.

‘They are bringing in cheap labour from Eastern European countries.’

Chetan Kumar said: ‘They just want cheap labour, temporary staff with no sick pay and no pension.

‘I’ve been working here eleven months on a monthly temporary contract, they’ve just been renewing it on a monthly basis, that’s what they want for all staff and that is what every company on the airport wants.

‘I want reinstatement along with all my colleagues.’

Jaz said: ‘My relatives work at BA and now they are threatened with being disciplined for supporting us last week. We must defeat victimisation and call the whole airport out.’

Mo said: ‘We want our jobs back – all of us – there must be no victimisation either at Gate Gourmet or British Airways. If the bosses succeed, the union will be finished on the airport but without the union we’ve got nothing. We’ve got to call the whole airport out.’