Thursday, 1 March 2007

And the victim was

Published 24 July, 2005

A 29 year-old Brazilian electrician - I bet he never expected to die on the floor of the tube in Stockwell. "He looked Pakistani" said the best eye-witness in the land (or so he seemed at the time) but he was Brazilian. We lived next door to Jose and Maria from Portugal for a while, in the grounds of a chateau in France. We were renting and they were the old retainers. Jose had been in France for 31 years, left there about age 20, bit of a soccer player. After 31 years he would still wear vest, shirt and at least 2 jumpers until July. By mid-July he might be seen to bare his arms, but only in a heatwave.

They speak Portuguese in Brazil and they wear lots of warm clothes when they are away from home. Maybe he didn't understand English, maybe he was cold, but why jump the barrier at the station. No money for a ticket? Illegal immigrant? Pocketful of drugs? Just scared and pure unlucky? Will we ever know?

Until recently I would have assumed that secrecy would prevail and mistakes would be covered up. During recent events the police have been remarkably candid - perhaps because they realise they have to if they are to have any credibility as guardians of our security. An innocent man was pumped full of bullets on the tube by police marksmen working on bad intelligence - nothing good about it. But at least they admitted it - that's a start.

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