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IOPC to challenge Met over refusal to hold hearing for officer W80

The IOPC is attempting to overturn a High Court judgement in favour of an officer involved in a fatal shooting. The court had ruled Officer W80 should not face disciplinary charges relating to the case of Jermaine Baker who was shot dead during an attempted prison escape.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct will be going to the Court of Appeal tomorrow to challenge the ruling that officer W80 should not face a disciplinary hearing over a lethal use of force.

It says the appeal will be "a landmark case relating to the use of force by police officers."


Jermaine Baker was shot dead in 2015 while attempting to assist a break-out attempt involving Izzet Eren near Wood Green Crown Court.

W80 claimed to be acting in self-defence, fearing Mr Baker was reaching for a gun. No firearm was found but officers did recover an imitation Uzi machine gun in the rear of the car.

The IOPC investigated Baker’s death and the firearms officer involved was arrested and criminally interviewed. A file was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service who decided to take no further action.

The IOPC decided there was a disciplinary case to answer that W80’s use of force was excessive. The Metropolitan Police disagreed but was directed to hold gross misconduct proceedings.

This decision was successfully challenged by the officer on the basis that the same test used by the CPS, the criminal test for self-defence, should be applied.

Now the IOPC has appealed that decision because it believes “this raises broader issues about police use of force and police accountability”.

The legal battle centres on the interpretation of the Code of Ethics and the officer’s “honestly held belief at the time that you used the force”. The IOPC will be arguing that any honestly held belief must also be “reasonable which is in line with the civil test for self-defence”.

The hearing, R (on the application of Officer W80) -v- Director General of the Independent Office for Police Conduct & others is set down for two and half days at the Royal Courts of Justice.

In February, the Home Secretary announced a public inquiry will be held under the Inquiries Act 2005 to investigate the circumstances of the death and will be led by retired judge Clement Goldstone QC.

In her statement the Home Secretary said: "Establishing an inquiry is important to ensure that all of the relevant evidence can be properly considered as part of an effective investigation into Mr Baker's death.”

But the IOPC has decided to act to maintain public confidence at a time when community tensions are high. 

IOPC Director General Michael Lockwood said: “We don’t believe the public can have confidence in a police disciplinary system which effectively allows a police officer to avoid accountability by justifying any use of force because they honestly believed the situation required it, regardless of how unreasonable and irrational that belief may be.  We believe in those circumstances it should be for a disciplinary panel to decide if they have breached professional standards.

He added: “We consider that if no sanction is available against an officer who uses force, possibly lethal force, on the basis of an unreasonable belief, that public confidence will be undermined. Given the national reaction and debate sparked by the tragic death of George Floyd in the United States, now, more than ever, we should not be weakening police accountability.”

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