The Scots Law Student

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Tag: ian tomlinson

Ian Tomlinson – unlawfully killed

I’m currently working very hard for final exams so I’m just making a short update.

Yesterday an inquest jury unanimously found Constable Simon Harwood’s actions surrounding Ian Tomlinson’s death to be unlawful, reported in the Scotsman as “saying he ‘deliberately and intentionally’ shoved the newspaper seller to the ground. He was found to have acted illegally, recklessly and dangerously, and used ‘excessive and unreasonable’ force in hitting the man with a baton.”

They also request a thorough review of the CPS decision not to prosecute, which makes sense given that an entire lay jury agreed the actions were wrong.

In background news the Press Gazette published a report from Paul Lewis, the journalist who tracked down the eyewitness accounts and video of Ian Tomlinson being shoved to the ground, headlined “Met told us to ‘lay off’ Tomlinson story” which just doesn’t cover them in glory as an organisation.

I hope this judgment goes some way to getting the police out of this mess and that some lessons are learned for the future. There’s no need to lean on journalists to lay off stories and throw away evidence.

H/T: The Scotsman



Masterclass: How to keeping digging when in a hole

The police officer connected with the death of Ian Tomlinson during Operation Glencoe in 2009 has given evidence about his role in the event.

My principle reaction to Tomlinson’s death was that, regardless of what really happened that day, the authorities couldn’t have made themselves look guiltier if they tried — they seem to choose the dodgiest pathologist available to examine him, drew out investigations, refused to bring charges that were in time  and missed deadlines to bring others — and I expected the people involved to really pull out the stops in proving that there’s not a huge conspiracy involving the CPS and the Met ganging up to kill random members of the public going on here. This new evidence suggests they’re not even trying.

In particular, The Guardian reports that there was a sequence of questions designed to clarify the differences between the initial statement that the officer gave at the time and the photos and videos that emerged of the event.

Video footage and photographs shown to the jury, however, appeared to cast doubt on many aspects of Harwood’s account of the incident.

Asked whether he stood by his initial account of what had happened, Harwood appeared to struggle. The judge, Peter Thornton QC, who is an acting deputy coroner, interrupted to clarify matters.

“At the time I wrote this, I thought I fell to the floor,” said Harwood.

“At the time I wrote this, I thought I fell to the floor” ? This is a police officer who has had two years to get his story straight. That’s not acceptable for someone in a position of executive power in a first world country. He’s either lying about it for some reason[1], which we cannot have in the police, or he’s not got the brains to know when he falls over and we don’t particularly want that in the police either.

The judge seems to screw down the lid a bit more:

“Do you now accept that this is not correct?” the judge asked. “Yes,” Harwood replied.

“That you lost your baton – that is not correct?” the judge asked. “Yes,” Harwood replied.

“That you received a blow to the head – that is not correct?” the judge asked. “Yes,” Harwood replied.

“And that there were violent and dangerous confrontations – that is not correct?” the judge asked. “Yes,” Harwood replied.

When asked why he made so many errors in his account he could only manage a wimpy:

“Because at the time that is what I believed happened, from the information I had, that is what I believed happened to me.”

I frankly expect a better class of suspended-pending-investigation copper in my country. I can only wonder what the jury is making of this.

H/T: The Guardian

[1]. The next question is why did he say these “not correct” things?


Ian Tomlinson investigation whitewash

What already was one of the most ridiculously obvious cases of systemic governmental wagon circling we’ve seen in recent years got even more ridiculous this week.

The police officer who shoved Ian Tomlinson to the ground minutes before his death has escaped any responsibility for his actions. This is despite widespread public outrage, a video of the event, three post-mortems and a 15 month long investigation by the CPS. It’s nice that the government are spending so much taxpayer money on this but they really shouldn’t have bothered – we’ve not seen any return on it. The Guardian has uncovered more evidence than they have.

The decision by the CPS not to do anything about the attack is pretty rotten, to say the least, because they say that they have investigated the evidence and there is no hope of proving the manslaughter case beyond reasonable doubt. Fair enough, some people say, but we’ve got a video of him being shoved to the ground – what about trying him for assault? No, say the CPS, because the 6 month time bar for that charge has passed. Lots of people say, why didn’t the CPS bring the assault charge within the 6 month limit then? Because, say the CPS, they couldn’t because of an ongoing investigation into the incident… by the CPS.

If the CPS are mentioned a lot in that paragraph it’s because they’ve been instrumental in making this tragedy into the farce it now is.

The family of Ian Tomlinson are now collecting money to do it themselves. In the monumentally unlikely event that they are allowed to have a private (not public) prosecution (it would very possibly be the only one we will see in our lifetimes – there have only ever been two in Scotland and they’re not much more common down south) they would present their evidence to a jury instead. It will be horrendously expensive for them, it’s possibly the most expensive court action there is, and it seems to be the only way it will ever get to a trial.

The authorities have done a poor job with this case and if they really have to mess it up the very least they should expect is to have to resign when they get called on how badly their mess stinks.


Ian Tomlinson – G20 passerby death reveals death by internal bleeding

In between screeds of frantic university work I’ve been working on a post most academic on the various civil and criminal liabilities (there’s a whole lot of them) that potentially arise as a result of Ian Tomlinson’s death minutes after he was body slammed by a police officer. Unfortunately, all this work has turned to so much ash when it was revealed that the initial post mortem was highly suspicious and the pathologist in question has actually been warned about his results and it now appears that he died of internal bleeding and not a heart attack, as was initially decided.

This leads to questions of traumatic and non-traumatic haemorrhage and the causal link between these and his death as well. It still appears to be a very persuasive case of manslaughter (culpable homicide to the non-Sassenach) by applying the egg shell rule. It certainly would be if it was anywhere than at the hands of a strongly empowered riot control officer and that’s where the complexity comes from.