Row over 'blank' CCTV tapes at station

Guardian | August 23, 2005
By Rosie Cowan and David Hencke

Sources close to the case of Jean Charles de Menezes last night dismissed suggestions that CCTV tapes of vital moments before he was shot dead by police at Stockwell tube station had been wiped.

Speculation has swirled for more than a week, with claim and counter-claim about videotapes from the station where Mr De Menezes was killed on July 22.

Yesterday, the Evening Standard reported that senior tube sources had challenged claims that cameras on the platform were not working, but said police had returned tapes to them saying they were blank.

The paper quoted a senior transport union official as saying at least three of the four cameras on the platform were working, and said station staff were amazed and furious when told the tapes were blank. "It is most unusual to say the least," the official said.

Neither Scotland Yard, nor the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is conducting an inquiry into the shooting, would comment.

But last night a source told the Guardian: "Tapes were recovered with useful material, although they don't cover all parts of the station. There is CCTV coverage from the ticket area but there is an issue about the platform."

Asked if there was no useful footage from either the platform or the train, the source said: "You may be right."

CCTV could provide crucial clues to Mr De Menezes' behaviour. Leaked reports from the IPCC inquiry suggest a series of police errors, with Mr De Menezes not doing anything to arouse suspicion.

Sources at the RMT union, which represents tube workers, were puzzled by claims that the CCTV had failed.

Normal procedure is that the tapes are replaced every 24 hours and kept for 28 days. Every tape is replaced with a new one at about 2am. Its details are logged and checked and kept on file for 28 days.