'Song titles' in UK police evidence


A police officer will be investigated over claims he inserted song titles into evidence he gave at the inquest into the death of barrister Mark Saunders who was shot dead by police marksmen, Scotland Yard said today.

"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 Independent Police Complaints Commission said.

Mr Saunders, (32), who was armed with a shotgun, was killed by police officers following a siege at his house in Chelsea, southwest London, in May 2008.

The inquest into his death ruled that he had been lawfully killed by officers. The jury had been told he had been extremely drunk and had been firing shots from his flat.

The unnamed firearms officer AZ8 was one of those to open fire. He told the inquest he was just metres from Saunders and had been exposed after turning on a powerful light to shine on the flat. He said he should have fired sooner on the lawyer after Mr Saunders pointed the shotgun in his direction.

The inquest heard that AZ8 was one of four officers who may have fired the shots that fatally wounded Mr Saunders as he drunkenly levelled a shotgun at them from the kitchen window of his home.

The alarm was raised when officials examining transcripts of his verbal evidence at Westminster Coroner’s Court discovered the names of several song titles during his hour-long testimony.

It was not clear what the songs are, but he used the phrases “first time”, a hit by Robin Beck, “enough is enough”, the subtitle of hit single No More Tears  by Barbra Streisand, “point of no return”, a Duran Duran hit, and “line of fire”, recorded by rock band Journey.

The Metropolitan Police (MPS) said the claim over his evidence was raised during the inquest and that he had been reprimanded by his management team. However, last week the matter came to the attention of senior officers who decided that action was insufficient and on Friday referred it to the IPCC.

"We have now been informed by the IPCC that they will manage an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Directorate of Professional Standards," Scotland Yard said in a statement. "The MPS 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 while the probe is carried out.

The investigation will examine the officer's testimony, any impact that testimony may have had on the proceedings, the way in which the allegation was initially dealt with by one of his supervisors and whether or not any other police officers were involved," the police complaints commission said.