THE criminal justice system needs to be in the dock over the way it has handled the death of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson and failed spectacularly to give his family the answers they so desperately need.
PC Simon Harwood, the riot police officer who had been accused of his manslaughter after innocent passerby Mr Tomlinson had been caught up in London’s G20 protest in April 2009, was cleared of the charge by a jury at Southwark Crown Court.
The prosecution case had failed to convince the majority of jurors beyond reasonable doubt that the injuries father-of-nine Mr Tomlinson sustained during the incident had led to the internal bleeding which claimed his life, and that the bleeding had not begun before Mr Tomlinson was struck with a baton and pushed to the ground, or that PC Harwood’s actions amounted to criminal assault. They cleared him of the manslaughter charge by a majority of 10-2.
Let’s not forget what was not disputed during the trial. Mr Tomlinson was walking away from police lines at the time he was struck. That fact was clearly caught on camera by a US businessman.
What can also not be disputed is the fact that PC Harwood was the officer who struck that blow. He says he used reasonable force.
At the inquest into Mr Tomlinson’s death, a jury returned their verdict, again beyond reasonable doubt, that Mr Tomlinson had been unlawfully killed. Jules Carey, solicitor for the Tomlinson family, said after the trial verdict: “It is impossible for this family to understand these two, apparently contradictory, verdicts.”
What must have been so difficult for the family are revelations which emerged after the verdict – not heard by the trial jury – of PC Harwood’s disiplinary record.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission’s deputy chairwoman, Deborah Glass, ordered that PC Harwood will now face Metropolitan Police disciplinary proceedings in public in September. Ms Glass said it was “staggering’’ that he managed to medically retire from the Met while facing disciplinary proceedings for an alleged road rage incident – and despite this was later re-employed by the force as a police officer specialising in public order.
She said: “It is clear that significant questions remain in connection with his actions on the day Ian Tomlinson died.
“There are also questions in this case that the Metropolitan Police Service must answer.
“PC Harwood was able to retire from the Metropolitan Police while facing disciplinary proceedings for previous alleged misconduct towards a member of the public.
“That he was then re-employed by the force, first in a civilian role and later as a constable, is simply staggering and raises considerable concerns about their vetting procedures.’’ The only recourse open to Mr Tomlinson’s family now, three years after his death, is pursuing a costly civil action. The criminal justice system has provided them with no comfort in their grief.
Who put the Daleks in charge?
HERE at the Argus, some of us are convinced that LOCOG (The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games) is staffed by Daleks.
The evidence? Exhibit One – LOCOG’S comment when Australian competitiors were taken on a four-hour magical mystery tour of London by a bus driver who didn’t knowthe way to the Olympic Park, couldn’t work out howto use the satnav, and had to be directed to the site by an Aussie physio who had a map on his iPhone. Just say this in a Dalek voice: “It is day one and we have only had one or two issues where journeys have taken longer than planned. The vast majority of journeys have been fine”. Exhibit Two – LOCOG’s charming declaration that the Olympic torch should pass through the villages of Marshfield and Castleon inside a car to concentrate on “areas of significant population”.
Resistance is futile. Daleks do not apologise. Humour will be exterminated.