Police marksman ‘used song titles in evidence’
Footballers and TV presenters play the song- title game, but it is not appropriate at inquests
One of the armed police officers who shot barrister Mark Saunders dead is being investigated over claims that he inserted song titles into his evidence during the inquest into his death.
The marksman, codenamed Alpha Zulu Eight, has been suspended from operational duty while the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) oversees the probe.
AZ8 was one of two armed policemen who could have fired the bullets that ultimately killed the 32-year-old lawyer after a gunfight near his Chelsea home in May 2008. Saunders, who suffered from alcoholism, had shot his legally-held shotgun out of the window of his home several times after an afternoon drinking binge.
An inquest into his death last month, at which the officer gave evidence, ruled that Saunders was lawfully killed, but said there had been major failings in the police operation.
The Metropolitan Police admitted that the claim over AZ8's evidence was raised during the inquest and that he had already been reprimanded by his management team. But senior officers were not satisfied and have now referred the allegations to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
The actual song titles he apparently shoe-horned into his evidence have not been revealed, but they are rumoured to include numbers by Duran Duran and Barbra Streisand.
It has been claimed that the practice is not unusual among officers involved in long trials, who try to entertain themselves and their colleagues by dropping song titles into their testimony. However, senior figures at the Met are said to be furious that the officer chose to play the game during such a high-profile and sensitive court case.
"The MPS takes this matter extremely seriously as we expect the highest standards of all of our staff," said the force in a statement.
The challenge of peppering conversation with song titles is a well-known pub game that is popular among everyone from students to footballers.
BBC Springwatch presenter Chris Packham has built up a cult following by dropping song titles into his links during the show. In 2009 he used songs by The Smiths and this year wrote titles by The Cure into his scripts.
England's World Cup footballers got one over on the media in 1998 when they had a competition to see how many song titles they could drop into their interviews. They were eventually found out, but not before Gareth Southgate famously said of England's base: "It's hardly Club Tropicana, Bob".
The public reaction to those examples was one of amusement, but the news of AZ8's apparent attempts at humour has been greeted rather differently with internet message boards branding him "arrogant", "insensitive" and "disrespectful". ·
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