Doubtless some of you will remember that on 1 April the G20 meeting of the world’s economic superpowers was held in London. Such an event requires heavy policing, to protect the delegates and their cronies from evil demonstrators. And on that day, a man named Ian Tomlinson died as a direct result of police action.
Unfortunately for the police, a couple of circumstances surrounding the death quickly came to light: the entire episode was caught on CCTV; and Tomlinson was not a demonstrator, he was a newspaper seller trying to get home after a hard day’s work.
The police officer who attacked Tomlinson, PC Simon Harwood of the Metropolitan Police’s infamous Tactical Support Unit, is not going to face criminal proceedings related to the killing of Ian Tomlinson – this despite the fact that Harwood’s unprovoked attack on Tomlinson from behind is clearly visible on the many videos that have been posted on the internet (for example here. There are plenty of other examples online, as even a cursory Google search will find).
But even though Harwood isn’t going to see a court room from the “wrong” (or should that be “right”?) side of the dock, it has been announced that he will face a Police Complaints Commission into his alleged misconduct during the attack. During the brutal attack, Harwood wore a balaclava to hide his face, and had concealed his badge number – all signs that he knew he was doing something wrong.
The PCC decision to accuse Harwood of misconduct equivalent to manslaughter is likely to place additional pressure on Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, who controversially decided the officer should not even be prosecuted for assault. Now Starmer will have to explain why he decided that Harwood should not be punished for what was undoubtedly an illegal attack.
The way Harwood has been protected up to this point has sent a very clear message to other coppers: they can be as brutal as they want, even up to the point of murder, and the establishment will protect them. Now I just hope that the misconduct hearings are held in a properly transparent manner, so other bully-boy cops will learn from this experience. No one is above the law – especially the police.
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