Talking Points for Man Shot Dead

Urgent Release For All Press

(first published 22/07/2005)

Talking Points for man mistakenly killed by UK police. The following points should be emphasised in your reports:

  • The dead man is to be referred to as the “suspect” and never the “victim”. The intent of these talking points is to cast suspicision onto the dead man and direct any criticism away from the police.
  • He was not Caucasian. Preferably he was of Asian or Arab appearance.
  • Do not just mention that he was (mistakenly) taken for a suicide bomber, but describe suicide bombings in detail. Especially the aftermath. The intention should be to frighten the reader.
  • Remind the reader what would (never say “might”) have happened if the suspect “had” been a suicide bomber and the police had “not” shot him. Exaggerate.
  • Imply that he had a rucksack of the same colour, size, and design as preferred by real suicide bombers.
  • Blame the terrorists for his death and be sympathetic towards the police at all times.
  • When describing the man use imagary drawn only from the CCTV pictures of the real bombers. Conjour up the image of a suicide bomber.
  • Mention but do not discuss his innocence. Mention it only when necessary.
  • Belittle the suspect. Describe him in negative terms as poorly dressed, unshaven, and nervous, but also as a physically intimidating man, burly, agile, fit, dangerous.
  • It should not be written that he “failed” to obey police as failure may be construed as meaning that there was some other possible reason for his not stoping than presumed guilt. Avoid passive associations by describing his actions only with action words commonly associated with guilt such as “refused” or “resisted”.
  • Give conflicting eye-witness accounts of the actual moments of the shooting so as to protect officers.
  • One witness thought he saw a “bomb-belt” on the suspect. Quote this witness extensively and as often as possible. Offer no speculation or implication that he may have been mistaken (which of course he was). Use his observation as if it was the sworn testimony of an expert in suicide bombings requiring no further comment.
  • The police began following the suspect after he left an apartment in the same block in which another apartment was under surveillance. Use this in such a way as to connect him to the bombers (by describing the apartment block as a “house”, for example). Do not speculate that the police may have followed the wrong man.
  • Bury the information that the real bombers are still on the loose by mentioning some vague arrests but do not give details as those arrested in the early days of such crises invariably turn out to be innocent.
  • Avoid mention of the suspect’s family (especially if it turns out he had a wife and kids) but report in depth on how sorry the police are. Use words like “regret” and “tragic”.
  • Assert that the way in which the suspect “dived or fell to ground” was cause for suspicion in itself. Never connect this to the simultaneous shouting by armed police for every one to “get down” as this may contradict prior assertions that he refused to obey the police.
  • Report it as if “the regulations” required the police to shoot him.
  • Report that there will be an internal enquiry as if this is a magnanimous police gesture as opposed to mere routine. Report on the process but not the substance of the enquiry, and phrase process descriptions in terms of thoroughness, accountability, and above all sufficiency. Avoid mention of previous police-shootings that have resulted in public enquiries.
  • Don’t mention the war.
  • Generate debate on the circumstances in which the police should shoot to kill, and avoid moral or legal issues. Frame the debate in terms of terrorism only and dismiss mistaken-identity arguments as left-wing or liberal.
  • If the suspect turns out to be non-muslim you should still continue to question muslim clerics on matters related to terrorism.
  • If the suspect does turn out to be muslim connect muslim sympathy or sorrow over his death with radical extremism.
  • Use the tiniest flaw in the suspect’s character (drugs, fare-dodging, infidelity, etc) as ultimate justification. For example, “If he hadn’t have been deaf, he would have heard the police and still be alive today…”

Utterly groundless speculation is allowed to be presented as fact only when it results in a positive image for HMG.

All other topics, speculation, criticisms of the police, or discussions, are forbidden.

(first published 22/07/2005)


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