EYES OF THE WORLD LOOK ON WITH INCREDULITY AS FAMILY BRAND DECISION OF DPP NOT TO PROSECUTE OFFICER WHO STRUCK IAN TOMLINSON A JOKE
The decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions not to bring any criminal charges over the death of Ian Tomlinson follows a line of previous decisions when police conduct has resulted in death or serious injury and no charges were brought.
Ian Tomlinson WAS KILLED BY Simon Harwood on 1 April 2009 in the context of a heavily-policed and high profile demonstration that generated significant public interest. The failure of the Independent Police Complaints Commission to initiate an independent investigation until seven days after the death, on 8 April 2009, led to the potential for the loss, suppression and/or distortion of crucial forensic evidence in the ‘golden hours’ following Mr Tomlinson’s death. This repeats a pattern in previous contentious deaths following police contact where the death has not been treated from the outset as a potential homicide. INQUEST believes there should be an inquiry into the role of the City of London Police, the coroner, the pathologist and the IPCC, who have all played a part in ensuring no charges were able to be brought.
Responding to the decision, Ian Tomlinson’s son Paul King said,
After 16 months of waiting, to hear nothing is being done is a complete joke. Today they gave us no hope. This experience has broken our family apart. The DPP has told us there was an unlawful act, yet no charges are to be brought. This is no justice – everyone has failed us.
Deborah Coles, Co-Director of INQUEST, said:
The eyes of the world will be looking on with incredulity as yet again a police officer is not facing any criminal charges after what is one of the most clear-cut and graphic examples of police violence that has led to death.
This decision is a shameful indictment of the way police criminality is investigated and demonstrates a culture of impunity when police officers break the law. It follows a pattern of cases that reveal an unwillingness to treat deaths arising from the use of force by police as potential homicides. It demonstrates yet again the flawed procedures that follow contentious deaths involving the police and stands as testament to their unaccountability.
The family’s solicitor, Jules Carey, said:
The CPS decision is a disgrace. They have accepted the officer’s conduct is unlawful, but have determined not to prosecute him for anything. We shall examine this decision and challenge it if possible. There must be an inquiry into whether the failure to charge is a lack of competence or of will.
While we’re on the subject of Britishness, here’s something we can all feel proud of: cops without guns. That we don’t yet live in a police state where officers of the law can shoot first and ask questions later, or where innocent people can be killed at random for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because that would be awful, wouldn’t it? That would change the entire nature of the contract between state and citizen. Nobody would want that.
Thurs 22 July that the police officer Simon ‘Harwood’ responsible for the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests last year will not face any criminal charges. The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, announced this morning that the Metropolitan Police officer who was caught on video attacking the 47-year-old father-of-nine with a baton, and shoving him to the ground, will not face criminal charges, because of conflicting evidence in the post-mortem reports.
You know, those post-mortem reports, the first of which seemed to confirm that Tomlinson had died of a heart attack, as per the initial police account, an allegation that was undermined by the second report, conducted on behalf of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which found that Tomlinson died from internal bleeding.
Tomlinson’s family wanted a charge of manslaughter brought against the officer in question, but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is adamant that there is not sufficient evidence to conclusively prove
a causal link between the assault on Mr Tomlinson and his death. On that issue, there is disagreement between the medical experts.
Hypothetically speaking, one might imagine that a disagreement between medical experts would be easy to engineer on any matter, given a compliant coroner or two — even if there were video, CCTV and post-mortem evidence suggesting that, contrary to police reports, a certain innocent bystander was knocked violently to the ground and prevented from receiving proper medical assistance as he collapsed and died of his injuries.
Hypothetically speaking, one might imagine that it would be simple to get your tame experts to disagree about absolutely anything, especially if that disagreement were likely to impede embarrassing and uncomfortable further inquiry, of the sort that might challenge the gradual erosion of innocent citizens’ right to feel safe when the police are out on the streets.
The announcement comes five years to the day after the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station, south London, on 22 July 2005. Again, in that case, nobody was charged in connection with the death of the innocent Brazilian.
As i blog 22 July 2010 Tomlinson and de Menezes families are currently gathered outside Scotland Yard — a building with more CCTV cameras than the whole of Finland — to stage a protest, along with concerned members of the public. Last night, I spoke to some of the protesters as they were preparing for their demonstration. Even before the announcement had been made, the organisers were firmly convinced that the CPS would “find some technicality or other to make sure that no charges are brought”.
No police officer has ever been charged in connection with the death of a civilian in Britain or Ireland. And clearly, even in the digital age, when the public can use technology to hold wrongdoers to account, like the state, there is no reason to interrupt that pattern.
The message is clear: video evidence is the prerogative of the state alone. The police watch us, and our attempts to watch them back are fundamentally suspect, especially when we happen to catch them doing something a bit naughty, like, just by way of example, pummelling an innocent newspaper salesman to death. Let’s not rock the boat, eh?