Police officer accused of Chris Kaba murder will be named at trial

Chris Kaba was unarmed when he was shot and killed (Inquest/PA) (PA Media)
Chris Kaba was unarmed when he was shot and killed (Inquest/PA) (PA Media)

The Metropolitan Police marksman who shot dead Chris Kaba will be named when he stands trial for murder, a top judge has ruled.

A reporting restrictions on the name and age of the officer – currently referred to in court proceedings by the code NX121 – was imposed at the start of criminal proceedings.

But Judge Mark Lucraft KC, the Recorder of London, has said his identity should be publicly known from the end of January.

A prohibition on the publication of pictures of the officer, as well as the location of their home address, will remain, said the judge.

Explaining the decision, the judge said he had reviewed "intelligence material" when assessing the risk to NX121's life and the safety of his family.

"In the immediate aftermath of the shooting incident in September 2022, there was significant information about a threat", he said.

"In addition, the witness statements that have been provided highlight fears of risks then, and going forward and the observations in those statements cannot be ignored.

"In my judgement, whilst there may be risks to NX121 in lifting parts of the anonymity order, those risks are ones that in my judgment can be addressed in various ways so as to seek to ameliorate or mitigate them."

The judge said there is a risk of further threats to NX121 as the trial draws closer, but there would not be a "real or immediate risk to his life".

The judge said the delay in naming the officer allows for pre-trial matters to be dealt with, and would allow for "mitigation measures" to be put in place to make the officer and his family safer.

Mr Kaba, 24, was shot dead during an armed police car stop in Streatham Hill last September.

NX121 was charged with murder following a lengthy investigation into the fatal shooting, with a trial provisionally set for September 9 next year. In the moments before the shooting, Mr Kaba had driven into Kirkstall Gardens and collided with a marked police car.The accused officer fired one shot and hit Mr Kaba in the head.

News of the murder charge sparked a crisis within the Metropolitan Police, with reports of significant numbers of officers reportedly refusing togo on armed duty.

The Home Secretary ordered a review into firearms policing in the wake of the murder charge, to examine the laws the underpin the officers’ work.

The review will not, however, look at live investigations and ongoing criminal proceedings. NX121 remains on bail and is set to return to the Old Bailey for a plea and trial preparation hearing on December 1.

A statement from the court said Judge Lucraft “has varied the existing Court order so that from 10:00am on January 30, 2024 the defendant’s name and date of birth will no longer be withheld and can be reported.

"For the avoidance of doubt, the address of the defendant and no photograph, image drawing or other description of the defendant cannot be published until further order."

Members of Mr Kaba's family sat in court as Judge Lucraft made his ruling.

Afterwards, they issued a statement thanking the court for "working in the public interest of open justice".

They said: "We must be allowed to know the name of the man who shot and killed our much loved son, brother and fiance.

"We hope the court will now be allowed to do its job without further disruption or delay."

National Police Chiefs' Council lead for armed policing, Chief Constable Simon Chesterman, said: "Whilst we respect the decision of the court, we also recognise the impact and concern this will have on all officers, but in particular armed officers nationally.

"We will reflect upon the implications this has for policing."

Steve Hartshorn, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales that represents thousands of rank and file officers, said: "PFEW is seriously concerned and bitterly disappointed about the potential ramifications of publishing the officer's name and date of birth in January 2024.

"We know that this concern is shared by many officers of all ranks and roles across the country, but more so in the world of armed policing as they understand the threat and risk taken in the protection of the public more so than others."