An anti-terror detective failed to check pictures which could have stopped police in the UK mistaking Jean Charles de Menezes for a suicide bomber, an inquest heard today.
Surveillance photographs of Hussain Osman on a 2004 camping trip in the Lake District were shown to a jury at the Oval cricket ground, south London, for the first time this afternoon.
But the “Operation Ragstone” images were not examined after Osman launched a failed bomb attack in London on July 21 the following year.
Instead, the inquest heard, officers relied on a gym card photograph and CCTV images before shooting dead the wrong man.
Detective Chief Inspector Pat Mellody, of the Scotland Yard anti-terrorist squad, said surveillance photos were not examined “because events overtook us”.
He added: “The investigation was running to try to contain the situation that we believed was developing.”
Asked whether he accepted criticism for being at fault, Mr Mellody replied: “I do not accept that. I believe at that time in the morning they had got the imagery – and by imagery I mean the gym cards and the scenes where the individuals who actually tried to conduct the attacks on London were actually filmed.”
Mr de Menezes's brother, Giovani, sat in the courtroom with his hand over his chin as he saw the pictures of Osman with his camping gear.
The inquest also heard from a senior surveillance officer, named only as Pat, who contradicted evidence given by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick.
Ms Dick claimed Pat said “they think it’s him” and that “he’s very jumpy” as officers closed in on Mr de Menezes.
But Pat, the principal link at New Scotland Yard between surveillance and Ms Dick, said Mr de Menezes remained only “possibly identifiable with” Osman throughout the chase.
Speaking behind a screen, he added: “I was always under the impression that the subject had been unidentified.”
After being asked by David Perry QC, representing Ms Dick, whether he recalled saying “they think it’s him”, Pat replied: “Certainly not because that would have involved positive identification being made which would, therefore, be recorded in the log straight away because that would indicate it was him.”
He said: “In my impression, he remained as ’possibly identifiable with’ throughout.
“Obviously I wasn’t aware of everything that Commander Dick may have heard or spoken to, even, and possibly other people may have spoken to the surveillance team as well.”
Yesterday the jury heard officers involved in the pursuit endured “chaotic” scenes in the police control room on the day of the shooting.
Ms Dick has admitted her officers were not prepared for a failed suicide bombing.
But she believed Mr de Menezes posed a “great threat” as officers pursued him on July 22, 2005.
The 27-year-old was killed by specialist firearms officers who mistook him for Osman after boarding a train at Stockwell Tube station.
The inquest, which is expected to last 12 weeks, was adjourned until Monday.