Monday, 5 August 2013

Sorry, I 'inadvertently' may not be telling the truth

It's worth reminding ourselves of the first statement issued by the Metropolitan police over the death of Ian Tomlinson:

A member of the public went to a police officer on a cordon in Birchin Lane, junction with Cornhill, to say that there was a man who had collapsed round the corner.
That officer sent two police medics through the cordon line and into St Michael's Alley where they found a man who had stopped breathing. They called for LAS [London Ambulance Service] support at about 1930.
The officers gave him an initial check and cleared his airway before moving him back behind the cordon line to a clear area outside the Royal Exchange Building where they gave him CPR.
The officers took the decision to move him as during this time a number of missiles - believed to be bottles - were being thrown at them.
LAS took the man to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Contrary to what actually occurred, this statement, agreed with the IPCC as per procedures and issued on April 1 2009, portrays police as heroes. While senior officers apparently aren't aware of the truth - that a member of the Territorial Support Group has pushed Mr Tomlinson to the ground who has subsequently died - they are aware of the heroism of officers who tried to save him despite a barrage of missiles thrown by those wretched demonstrators.

On April 4, the now struck off Dr Freddy Patel ruled that Ian Tomlinson died of 'natural causes' with the cause of death being 'coronary artery disease'.  At the time Dr Patel was on the preferred Home Office list of pathologists and he was the only one of three pathologists involved in the case to examine Mr Tomlinson's intact body. In his final report, he found 'intra-abdominal fluid with blood about 3l with small blood clot'. The significance of this could not be examined by the other pathologists involved, Dr Kenneth Shorrock and Dr Nathaniel Cary, as Dr Patel didn't 'retain' the fluid. (NB: A further pathologist was involved, Dr Ben Swift, who acted for Simon Harwood at his subsequent trial).

It was only after the emergence of footage of the attack upon Ian Tomlinson that the IPCC launched its investigation, on April 8. It is hard to believe knowledge of what the actual events were not well known prior to this time within police circles.

Charges did not appear after that first IPCC investigation. It took the jury's verdict unlawful killing at the inquest to change the CPS' mind and pursue - always a long shot in my opinion - to happen. And PC Harwood was of course acquitted.

And it's taken until today for this unpleasant and tragic saga to come to an end. It is settled as the Metropolitan Police has apologised 'unreservedly' and paid the Tomlinson family an undisclosed sum.

It remains a deeply unsatisfactory situation though. While the apology from Deputy Assistant Commission Maxine de Brunner has drawn a line under the affair, the Met refuses to acknowledge the possibility that it may have lied.

She apologised for Simon Harwood's 'use of excessive and unlawful' force. DAC de Brunner was also sorry for the 'ill-considered comments made in the media in the immediate aftermath of Mr Tomlinson's death' and for the 'information given by a Metropolitan police officer to Dr Shorrock and Dr Swift that misled them initially as to the cause of death'. The officer's actions were of course 'inadvertent' and 'not designed to mislead the pathologists'.

'Inadvertent'. 'Ill-considered'. Just innocent mistakes in the heat of the moment apparently. And the police hope public confidence will be restored with this apology.

And, glaringly, there's still no mention of the role of the officers who just stood and watched Simon Harwood push over Ian Tomlinson as he shuffled innocently away from their line. Perhaps they thought it was all just another day at the office.

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