Old Bailey determine officer in Chris Kaba case is to be named publicly
Judge Mark Lucraft KC has ruled that the metropolitan police firearms officer, currently known only as NX121, will be named on 30 January 2024.
Kaba, 24 and a father to be, was fatally shot by a police officer on 5th September 2022 in South London. He was driving near his home in Streatham when he was followed by an unmarked police car with no lights or sirens. As he turned into a residential street, he was blocked by a marked police car and a firearms officer fired one shot through the windscreen and hit Mr Kaba. He was taken to hospital and died the following day from his injuries.
The officer appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court the following day, where District Judge Nina Tempia put an order in place banning publication of anything that would identify the officer, ahead of further legal hearings at the Old Bailey. But as of 30 January 2024, his name and date of birth will be made public, although the judge will continue to restrict publication of his address and any images or drawings of him. In his ruling, the judge said he had viewed "raw underlying intelligence material" before reaching his conclusion that there was not a "real and immediate risk" to the life of the defendant or to their family.
The decision was made after numerous media organisations such as The Guardian and the BBC challenged the officer's legal application for anonymity, on the basis that cases should be held whenever possible in public to ensure confidence in the criminal justice system.
However, the Met's Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist has raised concerns at the decision to name the officer, stating that “I recognise that for officers this decision will be hugely concerning, and that the impact of this and recent cases is felt right across armed policing and beyond. We take seriously the open justice principle; however, it was important to make the court aware of the effect that loss of anonymity would have in this case…"
Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST, said “Anonymity for police officers involved in deaths goes against the principles of an open and transparent justice system. While it is right that the officer will be named in January, unlike almost any other citizens the public won’t be able to see his face as he stands trial for murder. The court must not now be held hostage by threats from those who have so far appeared determined to challenge and undermine the justice system they are meant to be part of.”
Chris’ family in response to the decision said “We thank the court for doing the right thing by our family, and working in the public interest of open justice, by naming the officer. We must be allowed to know the name of the man who shot and killed our much-loved son, brother and fiancé. We hope the court will now be allowed to do its job without further disruption or delay.”
A plea and trial preparation hearing is due to take place on 1 December, with a trial planned to start on 9 September next year.