Today an inquest jury delivered a verdict of “unlawful killing” in the case of Ian Tomlinson, the newspaper seller who died after being attacked by a Metropolitan Police constable. And the copper in question is PC Simon Harwood, a member of the Met’s infamous “Territorial Support Group”.
This blog has covered this case a couple of times – like here, and here – but here’s a quick recap. On 1 April 2009 there was a demonstration in central London where the G20meeting was taking place. Some demonstrators had gotten a bit rowdy, as had a number of the coppers policing the event, and the “Territorial Support Group” was out on the streets to restore “order”. At about 7.20pm by the Royal Exchange Building, Ian Tomlinson was making his way home after a day’s work selling newspapers. There were protesters nearby, and TSG officers, but Tomlinson was categorically not involved in the protests so it’s not at all clear why he attracted the attention of police officers. But he did\get the attention of PC Simon Harwood. There is CCTV footage of Mr Tomlinson walking past Harwood and other cops: then, for no apparent reason, Harwood is seen to run up behind Mr Tomlinson and shoved him forcibly in the back. It later transpired that Harwood had hit him with a baton. Mr Tomlinson fell heavily to the ground and died. There were a total of 4 postmortems carried out on Mr Tomlinson’s body: the first pathologist, Dr Freddy Patel, found that he died of a heart attack caused by coronary disease; but 3 other pathologists contradicted him, saying the cause of death was internal bleeding in the abdomen.
The Met tried hard to sweep this tragic event under the carpet: first of all he was painted by them as a violent protester; then, when it was made clear that he wasn’t involved in the demonstration, it was suggested that he was injured by protesters, and that he died because protesters prevented the heroic efforts of police officers to render first aid. But of course, the CCTV footage put the lie to that bunch of crap.
Still the authorities tried to cover up for one of their own: the Met and the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge Harwood with any offence, even though the video and the testimony of witnesses attested to the cop’s vicious attack. They tried hard to hide the truth; but public outrage finally forced them to hold a public inquest into Mr Tomlinson’s death.
And that inquest has now found that Ian Tomlinson was unlawfully killed. The jury declared that Tomlinson was, beyond reasonable doubt, killed by the baton attack and the shove. Harwood’s attack was “unreasonable”.
The jury went on to say:
“As a result, Mr Tomlinson suffered internal bleeding which led to his collapse within a few minutes and his subsequent death.” The jury decided that at the time of the strike and push Tomlinson was was walking away from the officer and “posed no threat”.
The verdict was “unlawful killing”. The killer was officer Simon Harwood. So now Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, is going to have to decide whether or not to charge Harwood with the killing; and his decision last year not to charge Harwood with manslaughter is going to be reviewed. Maybe, just maybe, the family of Ian Tomlinson will see justice done.
_got=2;_goi=2;_goz=0;_gol=’Free hit counter’;_GoStatsRun();
Free hit counter