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NEWS > 18 August 2011

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Two Who Were Wounded Testify A
Grand jurors investigating the fatal shooting of Sean Bell heard yesterday from two prime witnesses in the case, the two men in a car with Mr. Bell and who were wounded in a hail of 50 police bullets.

The testimony by the two men, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, signified a zenith in the grand jury process. Their appearances had been telegraphed for weeks by lawyers in the case, but a twist came when Mr. Bell’s fiancée, Nicole Paultre Bell, also arrived to testify.

Mr. Benefield, 23; Mr. Guzman, 31; and Ms. Paultre Bell, 22, entered an office building in Queens where t... Read more

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Wall Street Journal
18 August 2011
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U.K. Police Watchdog Clears 4 Senior Officers .

Britain's police watchdog cleared four senior police officers of misconduct over their role in the London police's widely criticized 2006 investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World tabloid.

The conclusions of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, however, won't end the pressure on Scotland Yard over an affair that has already ended the careers of two of the force's top officials. The IPCC continues to probe three other cases involving the police force's relations with the News of the World and other media. And the government plans to launch a public inquiry that will examine the police's 2006 investigation.

Scotland Yard has faced intense criticism over its initial investigation into phone hacking, which resulted in two prosecutions but concluded that the practice was limited to a rogue reporter, former royal correspondent Clive Goodman. That conclusion came under increasing pressure as evidence mounted that phone hacking seemed to be been more common at the now-closed weekly newspaper that was owned by News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal. This year, Scotland Yard said it would reopen its investigation.

Police were also criticized by the media and politicians for allegedly having close relationships with executives and reporters from the News of the World and its U.K. parent company, News International, and for some officers allegedly accepting bribes from journalists.

In July, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson resigned, along with Assistant Commissioner John Yates, saying the attention was making it difficult for them to continue with their jobs.

On Wednesday, the IPCC told Sir Paul, Mr. Yates and two other former senior officers, Andy Hayman and Peter Clarke, that they wouldn't be charged with misconduct. IPCC Deputy Chair Deborah Glass said in a statement that while the handling of the original investigation had damaged the force's reputation, but public concerns weren't the same as "conduct that is either criminal or for which an officer should be disciplined."

Sir Paul, for instance, couldn't be charged with misconduct because officers working for him carried out a poor investigation, she said.

The IPCC continues to investigate three other related affairs: that ex-commissioner John Yates helped the daughter of one former News of the World executive obtain a job with the police; the force's hiring of a former News of the World editor as a press relations advisor; and alleged police corruption.

In a statement, Mr. Yates denied any wrongdoing and said he is confident that he will be exonerated.

Separately, British courts are coming under increasing fire from human-rights groups and in some parts of the media for what they say are overly stiff sentences for crimes related to last week's rioting.

On Tuesday, two men received four-year prison sentences for inciting riots on Facebook, though in both cases unrest didn't take place. The government and judges have said the sentences send out a tough message that the behavior was wrong.

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