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INQUIRY INTO THE FATAL POLICE SHOOTING OF AZELLE RODNEY IN 2005 BEGINS MONDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 2012
Monday 3 September 2012
Inquiry Chair: Sir Christopher Holland
Court 80, Principal Registry of the Family Division, First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6NP
The full oral hearings for the public inquiry into the fatal shooting by Metropolitan police in April 2005 of Azelle Rodney will begin on Monday 3 September 2012. This is the first time in England that an inquiry has been set up to establish how a person came to their death, replacing the role of the inquest.
Azelle Rodney, a 24 year old black man, died on 30 April 2005 after a police operation in north London in which he was shot six times by a Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officer. The shooting took place after the car he was in was brought to a halt in a ‘hard stop’ in Edgware, north London, having been under police surveillance for several hours. Two men were later convicted for firearms offences but there was no evidence that Mr Rodney was holding a weapon at the time of the shooting.
Azelle Rodney’s mother, Susan Alexander, has waited over seven years to find out the truth about why her son died. Earlier this year, in a letter to the European Court of Human Rights, the government apologised for the excessive delay, admitting they had breached Ms Alexander’s right to a prompt investigation under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case has been complicated due to sensitive evidence relating to the police operation, which Ms Alexander believes is subject to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). Evidence that is subject to RIPA is not able to be heard in the context of an inquest, which is a fully public hearing. After years of parliamentary wrangling it was finally announced in March 2010 that a public inquiry would replace the inquest into the fatal shooting. However the family do not know how public it will be.
Susan Alexander, mother of Azelle Rodney, said:
“Waiting for so long to hear the evidence about the death of my son, Azelle Rodney, has had a profound effect on my life for the past seven years. I don’t think I will ever recover from it, as it has had such a big impact on my state of mind, my work (when that has been possible), home, social and family life. No one should have to wait for so many years to find out why their son or daughter died at the hands of the police.
“I hope the admission to the European Court of Human Rights by the Government in February 2012 that my human rights have been violated by the failure to hold a prompt investigation into Azelle’s death indicates that a much bigger effort will be made in future to avoid long delays in other cases.
“With the evidence finally being heard from 3 September, my main concern now is to see a robust, effective and transparent Inquiry. Everyone needs to know what happened on 30 April 2005 and why my son died that day.”
Helen Shaw, co-director of INQUEST said:
“Finally after years of being embroiled in a political controversy Susan Alexander will hopefully have the opportunity to find out why her son was shot dead by a Metropolitan police officer. His death is one of a number of fatal shootings by police that have raised profound concerns about possible operational and intelligence failings and about the quality of the investigations conducted by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
“Despite the lack of a jury, and the appalling delay that Susan Alexander has had to endure, we really hope this inquiry can both establish the facts about Azelle Rodney’s death, and thoroughly examine the broader issues relating to the planning and control of police firearms operations.”
Notes to editor:
1.A full briefing on Azelle Rodney’s case is available here
2.Susan Alexander is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Daniel Machover, partner, and Helen Stone, assistant solicitor, both at Hickman and Rose Solicitors and Leslie Thomas, barrister, Garden Court Chambers and Adam Straw, barrister, Tooks Court Chambers.
3.Neither Susan Alexander or her lawyers will be making any further comment at this stage.
4.Azelle Rodney Inquiry website.
‘I was already working with INQUEST, which is the organisation who monitor deaths in custody, and at one AGM I told the audience that what happened to these people [killed in police custody like Chistopher Alder, Roger Sylvester and many others] could happen to any of us. And then a couple of years later, I was standing in front of them again but now it had happened to my cousin. So my family and me were now “users” of Inquest. It shows you that none of us are immune – here am I, Benjamin Zephaniah, patron of INQUEST and client of INQUEST at the same time.’
– Benjamin Zephaniah