London

Policeman 'put song lyrics' in lawyer inquest evidence

  • 2 November 2010
  • From the section London
Mark Saunders
Mark Saunders was not allowed to speak to his wife

An investigation has begun after it was alleged an officer inserted song titles into his evidence at the inquest of a lawyer whom police shot dead.

Mark Saunders, shot by police marksmen in an armed stand-off in west London, was lawfully killed, an inquest found.

The siege began after Mr Saunders, 32, fired shots from his home in Markham Square, Chelsea, on 6 May 2008.

It is claimed the officer used Duran Duran and Barbra Streisand song titles. The police watchdog will investigate.

The evidence of the police marksman, known as AZ8, will be probed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The officer was reprimanded when evidence of his actions emerged during the inquest at Westminster Coroner's Court, which came to a conclusion on 7 October, with a jury ruling Mr Saunders' death was lawful.

'Enough is enough'

The IPCC said it would now manage a further police inquiry into what effect this had on the officer's testimony, on proceedings overall and how the Metropolitan Police (Met) dealt with it.

AZ8 used the phrases "point of no return", a song by Duran Duran, and "line of fire", a song recorded by rock band Journey.

He also used the phrase "first time", the title of a 1988 number one by Robin Beck, "enough is enough", the subtitle of hit single No More Tears by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer, and "you have got to have faith", a line from the chorus of Faith, a George Michael hit from 1987.

But the IPCC said it would not confirm if it was looking into specific phrases as part of its investigation.

The matter was referred to the IPCC on 29 October, a month after the officer gave evidence under oath.

100 guns

The Met said the officer was reprimanded by a senior officer in his firearms unit but IPCC officials were alerted when the matter came to the attention of more senior staff.

The spokesman said: "The Met takes this matter extremely seriously as we expect the highest standards of all of our staff.

"The officer has been removed from operational firearms duty."

The court had heard during the inquest that Mr Saunders had been surrounded by officers carrying more than 100 guns during the five-hour siege.

The jury found the actions of the officers were lawful, proportionate and reasonable but said it was not sure whether the barrister "deliberately and consciously took steps with a shotgun" to provoke officers to shoot him.

Jurors also found that police, who knew about Mr Saunders' problem with alcohol, had given insufficient weight to the fact that he was a vulnerable alcoholic.

But the panel said that this did not contribute to his death.

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