Raymond Soltysek's Blog

The IPCC screw up yet again about a police shooting.

Posted in Politics, Social justice by raymondsoltysek on August 12, 2011

Well, that didn’t take long, did it?

The IPCC released a statement today which cast further light on the way in which its instinctive reaction in the event of police shootings is to protect the officers involved.

It stated “… having reviewed the information the IPCC received and gave out during the very early hours of the unfolding incident, before any documentation had been received, it seems possible that we may have verbally led journalists to believe that shots were exchanged, as this was consistent with early information we received that an officer had been shot and taken to hospital. Any reference to an exchange of shots was not correct and did not feature in any of our formal statements, although an officer was taken to hospital after the incident.”

Given the unhealthy relationship between the media and the police which has been revealed by the News of the World scandal, it is obvious that no-one in the supposedly independent IPCC has learned any lessons since it’s chief, Moir Stewart, was implicated in exactly this kind of misleading briefing over the Jean Charles de Menezes killing.

This is in the wake of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee report into the work of the IPCC which was highly critical of its predilection for hiring ex-police officers like Stewart as investigators.  The conclusion is inescapable:  rather than being independent, the IPCC is actually a shadow arm of the police service which thinks like the police and which perceives the world as the police do.

When people like Jean Charles de Menezes, Harry Stanley and Mark Duggan  are shot in circumstances which are at best questionable and at worst actionably incompetent, that is unacceptable.

Scottish Review: Is the civil disorder political in origin, or just hooliganism?

Posted in Politics, Publications, Society by raymondsoltysek on August 11, 2011

I have a piece in today’s Scottish Review on the civil unrest in England.

It was prompted by an interview on the “Today” programme with Boris Johnson, a man born with a silver spoon in his mouth, a man who seems to walk into any job he wants regardless of his apparent lack of qualifications to do the job, and a man who, along with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, is a former member of the Bullingdon Club, famed for acts of anti-social behaviour and criminal damage.

When Johnson, without a trace of irony, accused kids from backgrounds blighted by inner city deprivation and who have little chance of anything but the most menial employment of having an “endless sense of entitlement”, I just about choked on my cornflakes.

Thanks to the Scottish Review for publishing my thoughts on the matter.

Still no justice for Jean Charles

Posted in Politics, Social justice by raymondsoltysek on October 2, 2009


Yet again, the scandalous failure of police in the unwarranted shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes escapes any sort of public examination.  The IPCC has decided not to recommend any disciplinary action against the officers who shot the young Brazilian in the head seven times as he was held helpless on a Tube train floor.

I remember the Stephen Waldorf shooting in 1983, when a case of mistaken identity rested on a red haired guy in the Mini of someone who knew escaped burglar David Martin.  Waldorf was lucky to survive, and the policemen who fired shots without warning were acquitted of attempted murder.  I was shocked by that then – how could trained officers shoot a total stranger and get away with it? – but at least in that case there was a trial.

Not so this time.  The open verdict from last year’s inquest – and that verdict arrived at after the coroner had instructed the jury that they could not return an unlawful killing verdict – should have prompted a re-examination of the case.  The jury delivered a damning assessment of the police operation that day: they had not shouted a warning; they had lied about the clothes Jean Charles was wearing, and his actions before they shot him; and Jean Charles had done nothing to arouse any suspicion whatsoever, and bore no responsibility for what happened to him.  In short, the police fucked up, royally and fatally.

Most other professions bear the brunt of accountability: teachers who abuse their pupils will be sacked and banged up; doctors can be struck off for malpractice.  But it seems that those professions that are given the right to be violent – the police, the military – bear no commensurate accountability.  Let’s be clear: the IPCC wasn’t considering taking these officers to court, or sacking them; it was considering ANY sort of disciplinary action.  So no suspension, no loss of pay, no demotion: hell, they’re not even being told they can’t rise through the ranks of the force, despite their mistakes. And some of them, such as Cressida Dick, already have.

And they were mistaken.  Badly mistaken.  The tension in London at the time, the stress the police were under, the paranoia of the whole country, do nothing to excuse the fact that a totally innocent man was shot seven times in the head.  Seven times. In the head.

Someone that day behaved unprofessionally, because it is the police’s professional responsibility to get the right man.  And if we don’t hold those in our midst who bear arms and use them against innocents like Stephen Waldorf, Harry Stanley and Jean Charles de Menezes accountable when they fail in that professional responsibility, then we will get exactly what we deserve, and have to accept it could happen to anyone – even ourselves.