MOD denies De Menezes Freedom of Information request

I mentioned last month that I had sent a Freedom of Information Request to the MOD about the Army’s role in the Jean Charles De Menezes case.

The MOD has now replied refusing to answer any of the questions I asked. One of the exemptions relied on by the MOD, 44(2) looks as if it might be related to contempt of court, presumably a reference to the current proceedings against the Metropolitan Police. One would hope that case will produce some of the answers I was looking for.

I expected the court case would affect the reply (especially questions 4,5 and 6 below), but from looking at the other exemptions mentioned it seems pretty clear that the Freedom of Information Act excludes the kind of questions I wanted to ask pretty comprehensively.

I have nevertheless set out the substantive part of the reply below, as an indication of the kind of questions to which we are not allowed an answer. The lack of an answer to questions 1,2 and 3 especially, is perhaps an indication of the lack of accountability of some elements of the state for their role in events which led to the death of an innocent man.

Note: I’m indebted to SpyBlog for the inspiration for questions 7,8 and 9.

Request for Information – Stockwell Shooting

I am writing in response to your e-mail dated 31 August this year in which you requested information about events surrounding the death of Jean Charles De Menezes on 22 July 2005. Your e-mail has been considered to be a request for information in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

I will take your questions in two blocks:
1. What reviews or inquiries have been undertaken into the role of Army personnel in the events surrounding the death of Jean Charles De Menezes on 22 July 2005?
2. What were the conclusions of any such reviews or inquiries?
3. What, if any, disciplinary action has been taken against Army personnel as a result of the events surrounding the death of Jean Charles De Menezes?
4. What co-operation has the Independent Police Complaints Commission sought and received from the  Ministry of Defence, the Army and from individual MOD or Army personnel?
5. Were any MOD or Army personnel interviewed under caution by the IPCC Inquiry?
6 Has the Army Prosecuting Authority considered any prosecutions as a result of  the events surrounding the death of Jean Charles De Menezes?

Your request has been considered under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, and in reliance on the exemptions in sections 23(5), 24(2) and 44(2) of the Act I neither confirm nor deny whether the MOD holds any information relevant to your request. To the extent that Section 24(2) applies, we have determined that in all the cirumstances of the case the public interest in maintaining the exclusion of the duty to confirm or deny outweighs the public interest in confirming whether or not the information is held. To give a statement of the reasons why these exemptions apply would involve the disclosure of information which would itself be exempt. Therefore, under section 17(4) of the Act, I am not obliged to give such a statement.

7. Is the Special Reconnaissance Regiment subject to monitoring by the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner  under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000?
8. Is the Special Reconnaissance Regiment subject to scrutiny by the Intelligence Commissioner under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000?
9. Is the Special Reconnaissance Regiment subject to scrutiny by the Intelligence and Security committee of Parliament?

We are unable to release the information we hold relating to the Special Reconaissance Regiment (SRR) as the information in question relates to UK Special Forces, of which the SRR is part. Therefore it is exempt from disclosure under section 23(3)(d) of the Freedom of Information Act.



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5 responses to “MOD denies De Menezes Freedom of Information request”

  1. Watching Them, Watching Us avatar

    It would be nice to know under what legal framework the Special Reconaissance Regiment and the Special Forces Support Group operate under, when they are conducting counter-terrorism surveillance operations in the United Kingdom.
    Do they only do do so as part of “all hands to the pump” extra trained surveillance manpower, under the command and control of civilian police forces or intelligence agencies regulated under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act ?
    What if they are tasking and authorising their own surveillance operations ?
    The RIPA Commissioners seem to inspect and audit samples of paperwork from law enforcement and intelligence agencies, but, not, so far as their published reports reveal, these military surveillance units.
    It may be worth writing to the RIPA Commissioners and to the Intelligence and Security Committee themselves, to see if they will oversee and audit such surveillance operations.
    These RIPA Commissioners are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, by virtue of the cunning ploy by the Department for Constitutional Affairs of not having formally listed them as “public authorities” in the periodically revised Schedule 1 of the Act. This is despite all the offices of the RIPA Commissioners meeting all the statutory criteria for being so listed.
    You will just have to write a letter (no email !) and hope for the best.
    The main RIPA Commissioners are the newly appointed:

    • Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Rose –
      Chief Surveillance Commissioner
    • Rt. Hon. Sir Paul Kennedy –
      Interception of Communications Commissioner
    • Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Gibson –
      Intelligence Services Commissioner

    Contact details for these RIPA Commissioners and for the Intelligence and Security Committee, who are supposed to provide the public with reassurance that such surveillance activities are proportionate and legal can be found on the Spy Blog UK Commissioners Links page.

  2. Tom Griffin avatar

    Cheers. I’ll let you know how I get on.

  3. Lord Patel avatar

    I wrote to the PCC when the enquiry was announced into the de Menezes murder and asked if their remit covered the actions/activities of any people involved in the De M death who were not employed by the State as Policemen.
    I received a (very prompt) reply that said they had only just taken on the investigation and could not discuss anything relating to the incident or circumstances.
    Reading the legislation (that establishes the PCC) it appears that their activities are strictly limited to the actions and activities of employees of UK Police Forces.
    Perhaps time to write again.

  4. Tim B avatar
    Tim B

    Probably you know this already, but just to post it anyway – the Sunday Herald reported claims that members of the SRR were present in the tube train when Mr De Menezes was shot.

  5. Tom Griffin avatar

    Actually, I’m not sure I’d seen that particular story. It’s an excellent piece, thanks.

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