British policeman 'spoke in song titles' at inquest

2nd November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's police watchdog said Tuesday it was investigating a firearms officer who allegedly deliberately inserted song titles into his testimony during a hearing into a man's death.

The allegations concern a recent inquest into the death of barrister Mark Saunders, who was shot dead by police in 2008 after a stand-off in which he drunkenly aimed a gun at officers from the window of his London home.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said the Metropolitan Police has referred to them a complaint about the testimony from the officer, one of those who fired on the 32-year-old Saunders.

"It is alleged that, while giving evidence under oath to the inquest on 27 September 2010, officer AZ8 deliberately inserted song titles into his verbal testimony," the IPCC said in a statement.

It has launched an investigation into the testimony and the impact it may have had on the outcome of the inquest, which concluded that police marksmen acted lawfully.

It was not clear what the songs are, but the officer used the phrases "point of no return", a Duran Duran hit, and "line of fire", recorded by rock band Journey.

Officer AZ8 has been removed from operational firearms duty pending the probe, the Metropolitan Police said, adding: "The MPS takes this matter extremely seriously as we expect the highest standards of all our staff."

Saunders died from injuries inflicted when seven police officers opened fire almost simultaneously from rooms and rooftops overlooking his home, where he had earlier sparked the siege by firing his shotgun through the window.

The inquest heard he had been battling alcoholism for several years and also suffered bouts of depression.

Although it found the marksmen had acted lawfully, the inquest said officers should have given more thought to using Saunders's wife, Elizabeth, or a close friend to end the stand-off earlier.

© 2010 AFP

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