Death of Ian Tomlinson

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"Ian Tomlinson" redirects here. For the Australian athlete, see Ian Tomlinson (athlete).
Death of Ian Tomlinson
photograph
Ian Tomlinson remonstrates with police after being pushed to the ground, minutes before he died
Date and place 1 April 2009 (2009-04-01), Cornhill, City of London
Reporter Paul Lewis, The Guardian
Charges PC Simon Harwood charged with manslaughter, May 2011
Trial 18 June – 19 July 2012
Southwark Crown Court
Verdict Not guilty
Awards For Paul Lewis: Bevins Prize for outstanding investigative journalism, and Reporter of the Year[1]
First video
published by The Guardian

Ian Tomlinson (7 February 1962 – 1 April 2009) was a newspaper vendor who collapsed and died in the City of London on his way home from work, after being struck by a police officer during the 2009 G-20 summit protests. An inquest found that he had been unlawfully killed. Simon Harwood, a constable with London's Metropolitan Police Service, was found not guilty of manslaughter, but was dismissed from the police service for gross misconduct.[2]

The first autopsy concluded that Tomlinson had died of natural causes after suffering a heart attack. His death became controversial a week later when The Guardian published video that showed him being struck on the leg by a police officer wielding a baton, then pushed to the ground by the same officer. The footage showed no provocation on Tomlinson's part; he was not a protester, and at the time he was struck was walking along with his hands in his pockets. He walked away after the incident, but collapsed and died minutes later.[3]

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) began a criminal inquiry, and further autopsies indicated that Tomlinson had died from internal bleeding caused by blunt force trauma to the abdomen, in association with cirrhosis of the liver. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced in July 2010 that no charges would be brought, because the disagreement between the first and later pathologists meant the CPS could not show a causal link between the death and the alleged assault.[4] That position changed in May 2011 when an inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing. The CPS then charged Harwood with manslaughter.[5] He was found not guilty in July 2012, and was dismissed from the service in September that year.[2]

Tomlinson's death sparked a debate in the UK about a deteriorating relationship between the police and the public, the independence of the IPCC, and the role of citizens in monitoring police and government activity (sousveillance).[6] There was criticism of the news coverage too; the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, called it "an orgy of cop bashing."[7] The incident was compared to previous deaths involving police contact or allegedly inadequate investigations, such as the deaths of Blair Peach (1979), Stephen Lawrence (1993) and Jean Charles de Menezes (2005), each of which acted as a watershed in the public's perception of policing.[8] In response to the concerns, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Denis O'Connor, published a 150-page report in November 2009 that aimed to restore Britain's consent-based model of policing. The Guardian called it a blueprint for wholesale reform.[9]

Background[edit]

Ian Tomlinson[edit]

Tomlinson was born to Jim and Ann Tomlinson in Matlock, Derbyshire. He moved to London when he was 17 to work as a scaffolder; at the time of his death, at the age of 47, he was working casually as a vendor for the Evening Standard, London's evening newspaper.[10] Married twice with nine children, including stepchildren, Tomlinson had a history of alcoholism, as a result of which he had been living apart from his second wife, Julia, for 13 years, and had experienced long periods of homelessness. He had been staying since October 2008 in the Lindsey Hotel, a shelter for the homeless on Lindsey Street, Smithfield, EC1.[11]

Tomlinson was a Millwall F.C. fan, and can be seen on the day of his death wearing a blue Millwall shirt underneath a grey "Neil Harris all-time leading goal scorer" T-shirt.[12] He did not take part in the G20 protests, and was walking across London's financial district in an effort to reach the Lindsey Hotel, his way hampered at several points by police lines set up to keep streets clear of protesters. The route he took was apparently his usual way home from a newspaper stand on Fish Street Hill outside Monument tube station, where he worked with a friend, Barry Smith.[13]

London police, IPCC[edit]

With over 33,000 officers, the Metropolitan Police Service (the Met) is the largest police force in the United Kingdom.[14] It is responsible for policing Greater London, except for the financial district, the City of London; the latter has its own police force, the City of London Police. The Met's commissioner at the time of the incident was Sir Paul Stephenson; the City of London police commissioner was Mike Bowron. Responsibility for supervising the Met falls to the Metropolitan Police Authority, chaired by the Mayor of London.[15]

The officer seen pushing Tomlinson was a constable with the Met's Territorial Support Group (TSG), identified by the "U" on their shoulder numbers. They specialize in public-order policing, wearing military-style helmets, flame-retardant overalls, stab vests and balaclavas. Their operational commander at the time was Chief Superintendent Mick Johnson.[16] The TSG is the successor to the Special Patrol Group (SPG), known for its alleged involvement in the 1979 death in London of a protester, Blair Peach, a death that commentators compared to Tomlinson's; trapped inside a police cordon, Peach was allegedly hit by an SPG officer, but no firm evidence ever emerged.[17]

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was created by the Police Reform Act 2002, and began to operate in 2004. Its chair when Tomlinson died was Nick Hardwick. The IPCC replaced the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) following public dissatisfaction with the latter's relationship with the police. Unlike the PCA, the IPCC operates independently of the Home Office, which regulates the police.[18]

Operation Glencoe[edit]

photograph
Riot police containing or "kettling" protesters at the Climate Camp, Bishopsgate, 1 April 2009

The G20 security operation was codenamed "Operation Glencoe"; it was a "Benbow operation," which meant the Met, City of London Police and British Transport Police worked under one Gold commander, in this case Bob Broadhurst of the Met.[19] The Guardian reported speculation among protesters that the operation had been named after the 1692 Glencoe massacre in the Scottish Highlands.[20] A spokesman for the Met said before the protests that the police were "up for it"; the service said he had been quoted out of context.[21] Protesters also escalated the rhetoric, saying they hoped to take control of central London, amid references to bankers being lynched.[20]

On 1 April 2009, the day Tomlinson died, the police were dealing with six protests in the area: a security operation at ExCeL London, a Stop the War march, a Free Tibet protest outside the Chinese Embassy, a People & Planet protest, a Climate Camp protest, and a protest outside the Bank of England. Protesters ranged from peaceful environmentalists to violent anarchists, according to the police, who said that 4,000–5,000 protesters were at the Climate Camp and the same number at the Bank of England. Over 5,500 Metropolitan police officers were deployed on 1 April and 2,800 on 2 April, at an estimated cost of £7.2 million ($11.3 million). Officers worked 14-hour shifts on average; according to a police focus group, they ended their shifts at midnight, were required to sleep on the floor of police stations, were not given a chance to eat, and had to be back on duty at 7 am. This was seen as having contributed to the difficulties they faced.[22]

The Bank of England protesters were held in place from 12.30 pm until 7.00 pm using a series of cordons, a process the police called "containment" and the media called "kettling"; it consisted of corralling protesters into small spaces ("kettles"), then keeping them there until the police wanted to disperse them. The "kettle" was used as a metaphor for keeping in the heat and steam.[23] At 7 pm police began to disperse the protesters around the bank, and senior officers made a decision that "reasonable force" could be used.[24] Between 7:10 and 7:40 pm the crowd surged toward the police, missiles were thrown, and police responded by using their shields to push the crowd back. Scuffles broke out and arrests were made. This was the situation Tomlinson wandered into as he tried to make his way home.[25]

Tomlinson[edit]

Earlier encounter with police[edit]

map
(1) 7 pm: Tomlinson left Bank–Monument station. (2) c. 7:20 pm: he was struck in Royal Exchange Passage. (3) 7:25–7:30 pm: he collapsed and died outside 77 Cornhill.

Several newspapers published images of Tomlinson's first encounter with police that evening. Barry Smith says Tomlinson left the newspaper stand outside Monument Tube Station at around 7 pm.[13] This image, published by the Daily Mail, shows Tomlinson smoking a cigarette in front of a police van in Lombard Street. The Mail writes that an eyewitness, IT worker Ross Hardy, said Tomlinson was drunk and refusing to move; a police van tried to nudge him out of the way, and when that didn't work he was moved by four riot officers. The Daily Mail published this image of him apparently being pushed by the police.[26] On 16 April The Guardian published three images of Tomlinson – 1, 2, 3 – taken at the same time as the Daily Mail images.[27]

Tomlinson stayed on Lombard Street for another half hour, then made his way to King William Street, toward two lines of police cordons, where police had "kettled" thousands of protesters in the area around the Bank of England. At 7:10 pm he doubled back on himself, walking up and down Change Alley where he encountered more cordons, and five minutes later was on Lombard Street again, crossed it, walked down Birchin Lane, and reached Cornhill at 7:10–7:15 pm.[28]

A few minutes later he was at the northern end of a pedestrian precinct, Royal Exchange Passage (formally called Royal Exchange Buildings), near the junction with Threadneedle Street, where a further police cordon stopped him from proceeding. He turned to walk south along Royal Exchange Passage instead, where minutes before he arrived officers had clashed with up to 25 protesters. Riot police from the Met's TSG, accompanied by City of London police dog handlers, had arrived there from the cordon in Threadneedle Street to help their colleagues.[28]

Encounter with officer[edit]

Police officers are reported to have followed Tomlinson as he walked 50 yards (50 m) along the street.[13] He tried to head towards Threadneedle Street, but again ran into police cordons. He doubled back on himself yet again towards Cornhill.[29] A CPS report released in July 2010 said Tomlinson was bitten on the leg by a police dog at 7:15 pm, when a dog handler tried to move him out of the way. He was reported not to have reacted to the bite.[30]

photograph
7:20 pm: Tomlinson just before he was struck[31]
photograph
PC Simon Harwood behind him[32]
photograph
Tomlinson falls[32]
photograph
In a separate video, Tomlinson walks away after being struck.[33]

At 2 a.m. on 7 April, a week after the incident, The Guardian was passed footage shot by an investment fund manager from New York who was in London on business. The video shows a group of officers approach Tomlinson again – the same group of officers, according to The Times – outside a Montblanc store at the southern end of Royal Exchange Passage, near the junction with Cornhill.[13] Tomlinson was walking slowly with his hands in his pockets. An eyewitness, Alan Edwards, said Tomlinson was saying, "I want to go home. I live down there. I'm trying to get home."[31]

The footage shows one officer appear to lunge at Tomlinson from behind, then strike him across the legs with a baton the officer was holding in his left hand. The same officer then appears to push Tomlinson's back, causing him to fall. On 8 April Channel 4 News released their own footage of the scene, which shows the officer's arm swing back to head height before bringing it down to hit Tomlinson on the legs with the baton.[34] A different video obtained by The Guardian on 21 April shows Tomlinson standing by a bicycle rack, hands in his pockets, appearing to offer no resistance, when the police approach him. After he is hit, he can be seen scraping along the ground on the right side of his forehead; eyewitnesses spoke of hearing a noise as his head hit the ground.[35]

Collapse[edit]

The Guardian video shows Tomlinson briefly remonstrating with police as he sat on the ground. None of the officers tried to help him.[36] After being helped to his feet by Alan Edwards, a protester, Tomlinson walked 200 feet (60 m) along Cornhill, where he collapsed at around 7:25 pm outside 77 Cornhill. Witnesses say he appeared dazed, eyes rolling, skin grey. They also said he smelled of alcohol.[13]

An ITV News photographer tried to give medical aid, but was forced away by police, as was Lucy Apps, a third-year medical student.[37] Daniel McPhee, a social support worker, dialled 999, the emergency services. At that point Tomlinson was reportedly still breathing. The ambulance operator told McPhee to put Tomlinson on his back, McPhee said. Then a group of riot police surrounded Tomlinson; the operator asked to speak to the police, but McPhee said the police ignored the request.[38] Police medics attended to Tomlinson, who was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.[39]

Simon Harwood[edit]

Simon Harwood, the officer seen striking Tomlinson, was named by several newspapers in July 2010.[40] At the time of the incident, he was a police constable with the Territorial Support Group (TSG) at Larkhall Lane police station in Lambeth, South London. Before his identity became known, The Guardian alleged that, on the day of the incident, he appeared to have removed his shoulder number and had covered the bottom of his face with his balaclava.[41] The Daily Mail published this image showing his shoulder ID missing.[26] Simon Israel of Channel 4 News reported a detailed description of the officer on 22 April 2009; the IPCC sought but failed to obtain an injunction to prevent Channel 4 broadcasting the description, alleging that it might prejudice their inquiry.[42] Fifteen months later, when announcing in July 2010 that no charges would be brought against Harwood, the Crown Prosecution Service still referred to him as "PC A."[4] It was only on that day that newspapers decided to name him.[40]

Harwood had faced two misconduct hearings in the 1990s and in 2004. According to The Guardian, the first arose out of a road-rage incident he was involved in while on sick leave with a shoulder injury, during which he reportedly tried to arrest the other driver, who complained that Harwood had used unnecessary force. Before the case was heard by a discipline board, Harwood retired from the Met on medical grounds and was awarded a pension.[43] Years later Harwood rejoined the Met as a civilian computer worker, then applied to join the Surrey Police as a constable in May 2003. Surrey Police say he was vetted and was frank about his history. During his time in Surrey, there was a complaint about his behaviour while on duty; it was investigated and found to be unsubstantiated. After working for Surrey Police for a year and a half, Harwood applied for a transfer back to the Met, and was accepted in November 2004.[44]

During the inquest into Tomlinson's death in May 2011, the court heard that Harwood had been in several confrontations that day. He had been on duty since 5 am, assigned as a driver, and had spent most of the day in his vehicle. During the evening, while parked on Cornhill, he saw a man write "all cops are bastards" on the side of another police van, and left his own vehicle to arrest him. The suspect's head struck a van door, triggering a response from the crowd that made Harwood believe things were getting out of control, and he said he felt it was unsafe to return to his vehicle. According to The Guardian, he at first told the inquest that he had been hit on the head, had fallen over, lost his baton, had been attacked by the crowd, and feared for his life, but later acknowledged this had not happened.[45][46]

Shortly after his attempted arrest of the graffiti man, Harwood became involved in several other incidents. According to The Guardian, he swung a coat at a protester, pulled a BBC cameraman to the ground, used a palm strike against one man, and at 7:19 pm pushed another man to the ground for allegedly threatening a police dog handler. It was seconds after this that he saw Tomlinson standing with his hands in his pockets beside a bicycle rack, being told by police to move away. Harwood told the inquest he made a "split-second decision" that there was justification for engagement, then struck Tomlinson on the thigh with his baton and pushed him to the ground. He said it was a "very poor push," and he had been shocked when Tomlinson fell.[45]

Harwood made no mention of the incident in his notebook that day; he told the inquest he had forgotten about it.[45] On 3 April three constables from the Hammersmith and Fulham police station – Nicholas Jackson, Andrew Moore and Kerry Smith – told their supervisor, Inspector Wynne Jones, that they had seen Tomlinson being struck by a police officer, though said they did not recognize Harwood.[47] Harwood said he first realized on 8 April, when he saw the Guardian video, that Tomlinson had died. He reportedly collapsed later at home and had to be taken to hospital by ambulance.[48] Harwood and three colleagues made themselves known to the IPCC that day.[49]

Autopsies[edit]

An inquest was opened on 9 April 2009 by Paul Matthews, the City of London coroner. Three autopsies were conducted: on 3 April by Mohmed Saeed Sulema "Freddy" Patel for Paul Matthews; on 9 April by Nathaniel Cary for the IPCC and Tomlinson's family; and on 22 April jointly by Kenneth Shorrock for the Metropolitan police and Ben Swift for Simon Harwood. The coroner was criticized for reportedly having failed to allow IPCC investigators to attend the first, and for failing to tell Tomlinson's family that they had a legal right to attend or send a representative. The family also said he had not told them where and when it was taking place.[50]

First[edit]

Dr. Patel concluded from the first examination that Tomlinson had died of coronary artery disease. His report noted "intraabdominal fluid blood about 3l with small blood clot," which was interpreted by medical experts to mean that he had found three litres of blood in Tomlinson's abdomen. This would have been around 60 percent of Tomlinson's total blood volume, a highly significant indicator of the cause of death, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).[4] A year later, on 5 April 2010, Patel wrote in a report for the CPS that he had meant "intraabdominal fluid with blood about 3l with small blood clot" (emphasis added). He did not retain samples of the fluid for testing. This issue became pivotal regarding the decision not to prosecute Harwood.[4] According to The Times in April 2009, the IPCC said that the autopsy showed there were no bruises or scratches on Tomlinson's head and shoulders, but did not say whether there were injuries elsewhere on his body.[51] On 24 April Sky News obtained an image of Tomlinson after he collapsed, which appeared to show bruising on the right side of his forehead.[52]

Second and third[edit]

The IPCC removed the Tomlinson inquiry from the City of London police on 8 April. A second autopsy, ordered jointly by the IPCC and Tomlinson's family, was carried out that day by Dr Nathaniel Cary, known for his work on high-profile cases.[53] Cary found that Tomlinson had died because of internal bleeding from blunt force trauma to the abdomen, in association with cirrhosis of the liver.[54] He concluded that Tomlinson had fallen on his elbow, which he said "impacted in the area of his liver causing an internal bleed which led to his death a few minutes later."[55]

Because of the conflicting conclusions of the first two examinations, a third autopsy was conducted on 22 April by Dr. Kenneth Shorrock on behalf of the Metropolitan police, and Dr. Ben Swift on behalf of Simon Harwood. Shorrock and Swift agreed with the results of the second autopsy. The Met's point of contact for Tomlinson's death, Detective Inspector Eddie Hall, told the pathologists before the final autopsy that Tomlinson had fallen to the ground in front of a police van earlier in the evening, although there was no evidence that this had happened. The IPCC ruled in May 2011 that Hall had been reckless in making this claim, but had not intended to mislead.[56]

Freddy Patel[edit]

At the time of Tomlinson's death, Patel was on the Home Office's register of accredited forensic pathologists. He qualified as a doctor at the University of Zambia in 1974, and registered to practise in the UK in 1988.[57] His work had come under scrutiny before, and at the time of Tomlinson's death he was reported not to have had a contract with the police to conduct autopsies in cases of suspicious death. The Metropolitan Police had written to the Home Office in 2005 raising concerns about his work.[58]

In 1999 Patel was reprimanded by the General Medical Council (GMC) for having released medical details about Roger Sylvester, a man who had died in police custody.[57] In 2002 the police dropped a criminal inquiry because Patel said the victim, Sally White, had died of a heart attack with no signs of violence, though she was reportedly found naked with bruising to her body, an injury to her head and a bite mark on her thigh. Anthony Hardy, a mentally ill alcoholic who lived in the flat in which her body was found locked in a bedroom, later murdered two women and placed their body parts in bin bags. The police investigated Patel in relation to that autopsy, but the investigation was dropped. In response to the criticism, Patel said the GMC reprimand was a long time ago, and that his findings in the Sally White case had not been contested.[59]

Patel was suspended from the government's register of pathologists in July 2009, pending a GMC inquiry.[60] The inquiry concerned 26 charges related to autopsies in four other cases. In one case Patel was accused of having failed to spot signs of abuse on the body of a five-year-old girl who had died after a fall at home, or check with the hospital about its investigation into her injuries. The child's body was exhumed for a second postmortem, and her mother was convicted of cruelty.[61] The hearings concluded in August 2010; Patel was suspended for three months for "deficient professional performance."[62] In May 2011 the GMC opened an investigation into his handling of the Tomlinson autopsy,[63] and as a result he was struck off the medical register in August 2012.[64]

How the story emerged[edit]

(1 April) First police statement[edit]

The Met issued its first statement on 1 April at 11:36 pm, four hours after Tomlinson died. The statement was approved by the regional director for London of the IPCC.[65] It said that police had been alerted that a man had collapsed, and were attacked by "a number of missiles" as they tried to save his life, an allegation that later media reports said was inaccurate.[66]

According to Nick Davies in The Guardian, the statement was the result of an intense argument in the Met's press office, after an earlier draft had been rejected. He wrote that both the Met and the IPCC said the statement represented the truth as they understood it at the time, and that there had been no allegation at that point that Tomlinson had come into contact with police. Davies asked why the IPCC were involved if they had not realized there had been police contact. He alleged that senior sources within the Met said privately that the assault on Tomlinson had been spotted by the police control room at Cobalt Street in south London, and that a chief inspector on the ground had also reported it. The Met issued a statement saying they had checked with every chief inspector who had been part of Operation Glencoe, and that none of them had called in such a report.[67]

(2 April) First news report, eyewitness accounts[edit]

newspaper article
Evening Standard, 2 April 2009

On 2 April the Met handed responsibility for the investigation to the City of London police; the officer in charge was Detective Superintendent Anthony Crampton.[47] In accordance with police briefings, the Evening Standard reported on 2 April that, "police were bombarded with bricks, bottles and planks of wood" as they tried to save Tomlinson, forced by a barrage of missiles to carry him to a safe location to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.[68] Eyewitnesses said the story was inaccurate. They said protesters had provided first aid and telephoned for medical help.[69] Others said that one or two plastic bottles ad been thrown by people unaware of Tomlinson's situation, but other protesters had told them to stop.[70] The Times wrote that an analysis of television footage and photographs showed just one bottle, probably plastic, being thrown.[13] Video taken by eyewitness Nabeela Zahir, published by The Guardian on 9 April, shows one protester shouting, "There is someone hurt here. Back the fuck up." Another voice says, "There's someone hurt. Don't throw anything."[71]

(3 April) Constables report the incident[edit]

First report
The Guardian, 9 May 2011

Three Metropolitan police constables from the Hammersmith and Fulham police station – Nicholas Jackson, Andrew Moore, and Kerry Smith – told their supervisor, Inspector Wynne Jones, on 3 April that they had seen Tomlinson being struck with a baton and pushed over by a police officer. They were standing yards away at the time of the incident. Jackson told the inspector first; officers then contacted Moore and Smith, who had been standing next to Jackson at the time.[47]

Jackson, Moore and Smith did not recognize Simon Harwood, the officer who struck Tomlinson, and according to the newspaper assumed he was with the City of London police. This was four days before The Guardian published the first video footage, in which the three officers can be seen. According to The Guardian, the inspector passed this information at 4:15 pm on 3 April to Detective Inspector Eddie Hall, the Met's point of contact for Tomlinson's death. Hall said he passed it to the City of London police before the first autopsy was conducted that day by Freddy Patel, which The Guardian writes began at 5 pm. According to Detective Sergeant Chandler of the City of London police, he did not receive the information until after the autopsy, or while it was at an "advanced stage." Apparently neither Patel nor the IPCC were told about the three witnesses. Patel said that he was told only that the case was a "suspicious death," and the police had asked that he "rule out any assault or crush injuries associated with public order."[47]

The City of London police told Tomlinson's family before the first autopsy that he had died of a heart attack. When the family asked, after the autopsy, whether there had been marks on Tomlinson's body, they were told no; according to The Guardian, Detective Superintendent Anthony Crampton, who was leading the investigation, wrote in his log that he did not tell the family about a bruise and puncture marks on Tomlinson's leg to avoid causing "unnecessary stress or alarm." The City of London police issued a statement on 4 April: "A post-mortem examination found he died of natural causes. [He] suffered a sudden heart attack while on his way home from work."[72]

(5 April) First photograph[edit]

First photograph
The Observer, 5 April 2009[73]

On 5 April The Observer (The Guardian's sister newspaper) published the first photograph of Tomlinson lying on the ground next to riot police.[73] After it was published, Freddy Patel was asked to return to the mortuary, where he made a note of bruising on Tomlinson's head that he had not noticed when he first examined him.[47] Over the next few days the IPCC told reporters that Tomlinson's family were not surprised that he had had a heart attack. When journalists asked whether he had been in contact with police officers before his death, they were told the speculation would upset the family.[74]

(7–21 April) Four videos[edit]

American businessman video, 7 April
Tomlinson images
Video

Guardian/American businessman
first video of the incident
published 7 April 2009

Channel 4/Ken McCallum
same scene from a different angle
published 8 April 2009

Nabeela Zahir
after Tomlinson collapsed
published 9 April 2009

Guardian Cornhill
his head hitting the ground
published 21 April 2009

Photographs

Lombard Street
Tomlinson is moved on by police
Daily Mail 1 2

The Guardian 7:08 pm 7:10 pm
Tomlinson walks away

Eyewitnesses

Eyewitness account
published 2 April 2009

Other footage

7:10 pm, Royal Exchange Passage,
shortly before the incident

7:15 pm, Royal Exchange Passage
published 15 April 2009

7:16 pm, Threadneedle Street
published 15 April 2009

Footage from CCTV
published 29 March 2011


The first Guardian video was shot on a digital camera by Christopher La Jaunie, an investment fund manager from New York; he was in London on business and attended the protests out of curiosity.[75] He initially asked not to be named, but his name was published during the inquest in May 2011. La Jaunie failed to understand the significance of his footage at first. It was only after several days, on his way to Heathrow airport, that he realized the man he had filmed being assaulted was the same man reported as having died of a heart attack. At that point, at 2 am on 7 April, he passed his footage to The Guardian, which published it on its website that afternoon. The newspaper then passed a copy to the IPCC.[76] It was after this that the IPCC opened a criminal inquiry.[47]

Channel 4/Ken McCallum video, 8 April

A second video was taken by Ken McCallum, a cameraman for Channel 4 News. Shot from a different angle, the footage shows Harwood draw his arm back to head height before bringing the baton down on Tomlinson's legs.[77] McCallum was filming another incident at the time, in which three bankers appeared to be provoking the crowd. The Tomlinson incident was unfolding in the background, unseen by the journalists but recorded by the camera. Half an hour later, Alex Thomson, chief correspondent of Channel 4 News, was doing a live broadcast when the camera was damaged. It took engineers days to recover the tape, which is when they saw that Tomlinson's assault was on it. Channel 4 broadcast it on 8 April.[78]

Nabeela Zahir video, 9 April

On 9 April The Guardian published footage shot by Nabeela Zahir, a freelance journalist. The video shows Tomlinson on the ground, almost hidden by members of the public and the police. The police can be seen moving away at least one woman who tried to help him, and a man, Daniel McPhee, who was on the phone to the ambulance services. According to The Guardian, the footage shows that the Met's initial claim that there had been a barrage of missiles from protesters while police tried to save Tomlinson was inaccurate. Protesters can be heard calling for calm; one shouts "Don't throw anything." The newspaper writes that, 56 seconds into the video, three officers can be seen with their face masks pulled halfway up their faces.[71]

Cornhill video, 21 April

The Guardian secured a four-minute video from an anonymous bystander who was filming on Cornhill between 7:10 and 7:30 pm, catching from a different angle the moments before Tomlinson was struck, as well as the moment his head hit the ground. The footage shows Tomlinson standing behind a bicycle rack in the middle of Royal Exchange Passage with his hands in his pockets, appearing to offer no resistance to a group of advancing police officers. When a police dog approaches him, he turns his back. At that point, he is hit on the legs and pushed by the TSG constable, and can be seen scraping along the ground on the right side of his forehead.[79] Eyewitnesses said they heard a noise as his head hit the ground. The IPCC sought an injunction against the broadcast of the video by Channel 4 News, but a judge rejected the application.[80] The footage is consistent an image obtained by Sky News on 24 April, which appears to show bruising on the right side of Tomlinson's forehead. A head injury was recorded by the second and third pathologists, but was not thought to have been the cause of death.[52] On 10 April The Times reported the IPCC as saying that no bruising or scratches to the head and shoulders had been found by the first pathologist, Freddy Patel.[51]

CCTV cameras[edit]

Nick Hardwick, chair of the IPCC, said on 9 April that there were no CCTV cameras in the area.[81] On 14 April the Evening Standard wrote that it had found at least six CCTV cameras in the area around the assault. After photographs of the cameras were published, the IPCC reversed its position and said its investigators were looking at footage from cameras in Threadneedle Street near the corner of Royal Exchange Passage.[82]

Early reaction and analysis[edit]

British policing[edit]

The death provoked a discussion within the UK and elsewhere about the nature of Britain's policing. David Gilbertson, a former assistant inspector who worked for the Home Office formulating policing policy, told The New York Times that the British police used to act with the sanction of the public, but tactics had changed after a series of violent assaults on officers in the 1990s. Now dressing in military-style uniforms and equipped with anti-stab vests, extendable metal batons and clubs that turn into handcuffs, an entire generation of officers has come to regard the public as the enemy, the newspaper said. The incident prompted an examination of police relationships with the public, the media and the IPCC.[6]

The Guardian, police, family and IPCC[edit]

The Guardian alleged that the IPCC and police appeared to obstruct inquiries by journalists. The announcement of Tomlinson's death was delayed by three hours, then confirmed in a statement that accused protesters of hampering police efforts to save his life, a claim that appears to have no factual basis and for which police declined to name their source. Tomlinson's family were not told he had died until nine hours after his death.[83] The police and IPCC told journalists that his family had been concerned about his health and were not surprised to hear he had had a heart attack. Journalists who asked whether police had had any contact with Tomlinson before his death were asked not to speculate in case it upset the family, and direct contact with the family was refused. The police issued a statement on behalf of the family instead, which said, "The police are keeping us informed of any developments."[74]

The police did not tell the family that, on 3 April, The Guardian had obtained photographs of Tomlinson on the ground. The next day, the results of the first postmortem were released, concluding that Tomlinson had died of natural causes. Reporters who approached the coroner were met with a refusal to comment. Police refused to say whether the postmortem had revealed marks from a baton blow. The Guardian published its image of Tomlinson sitting on the ground on Sunday, 5 April. That morning Tomlinson's family attended the scene of his death, where they met Paul Lewis, a Guardian reporter; they wanted to know more and gave him their contact details. In August 2009 Tomlinson's wife said this meeting with Lewis was the first the family had heard about any police contact with Tomlinson before his death.[84] The family's police liaison officer later approached the newspaper to say he was "extremely unhappy" that Lewis had spoken to the family, and that the newspaper had to stay away from them for 48 hours. The IPCC separately accused the newspaper of "doorstepping the family at a time of grief," according to The Guardian. On the same day, the IPCC briefed journalists from other newspapers that there was nothing in the story that Tomlinson might have been assaulted by police before his death.[74] During this period, according to Tomlinson's family, they were prevented from seeing his body; they say they were first allowed to see him six days after his death.[84]

On 7 April The Guardian published on its website the American investment banker's video, and later that evening handed evidence to an IPCC investigator and a City of London police officer who arrived at the newspaper's offices.[74] In a statement issued on 8 April, the IPCC said it had had no knowledge of the video until they heard it had been published on the Guardian website, at which point they requested and were given the footage.[85] The officers then requested the removal of the video from the website, arguing that it was jeopardizing their inquiry and was not helpful to the family. Nick Hardwick, chair of the IPCC, later said the IPCC had asked The Guardian to remove the video only because it would have been better had witnesses not seen it before being questioned. There was no attempt to hinder the newspaper's inquiries, he said.[81]

Criticism of news coverage[edit]

The extensive news coverage attracted criticism. Brendan O'Neill wrote in The First Post that it "crossed the line from journalism to snuff movie", featuring a "semi-pornographic hunt" for images of Tomlinson's last moments, designed to whip up outrage "against the dark forces who rule over us." He was also critical of The Guardian for having burned its logo into the original footage of the assault, increasing its brand-name recognition whenever the video was watched.[86] Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, called the coverage an "orgy of cop bashing."[87]

Criticism of IPCC[edit]

The IPCC was criticised for having taken seven days from Tomlinson's death, and five days after hearing evidence that police may have been involved, formally to remove the City of London police from the investigation. Hardwick said that the IPCC had first obtained eyewitness allegations of Metropolitan police involvement in the death on 3 April. City of London police continued to be involved in the investigation until 8 April, the day after The Guardian published the New York investment manager's video. Hardwick defended the IPCC's actions, arguing that, because Tomlinson's death became the focus of a criminal inquiry, the IPCC had to be meticulous in the way it proceeded, which precluded them from acting as fast as journalists were able to.[81]

The organization had been criticized before for not being responsive to public concerns. On 11 January 2008, the Police Action Law Group (PALG), over 100 lawyers who specialize in police complaints, resigned from the IPCC's advisory body, citing a failure to provide adequate oversight; a pattern of favouritism towards the police, with complaints being turned down despite strong evidence; indifference and rudeness towards complainants; delays stretching over several years in some cases; and key decisions being made by managers with little or no legal training or relevant experience. They wrote to Hardwick that there was "increasing dismay and disillusionment" at the "consistently poor quality of decision-making at all levels of the IPCC."[88] Hardwick responded to the criticism in a letter to The Guardian that some of the examples cited were the legacy left by the previous oversight body, the Police Complaints Authority, acknowledging that the IPCC did struggle shortly after it was set up in 2004 to cope with the number of cases it had inherited. He denied there was any pattern of favouritism toward the police and said the IPCC robustly defends its independence and impartiality.[89]

Metropolitan police response[edit]

The Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, announced on 15 April 2009 that he had ordered a review of public order policing in London, to be led by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Denis O'Connor. O'Connor's 150-page report was published in two parts, the first in July 2009, the second in November that year. The Guardian called it a blueprint for wholesale reform of British policing and a return to a consent-based approach.[9]

O'Connor wrote that there had been a hardening of police attitudes in recent years, with officers now believing that proportionality meant reciprocity.[9] He wrote that the deployment of officers in riot gear had become a routine response to lawful protest, largely the result of an ignorance of the law and a lack of leadership from the Home Office and police chiefs; that officers are being trained to use their riot shields as weapons; and that forces across the country differ in their training, the equipment they have access to, and their understanding of the law. The failure to understand the relevant legislation was in part due to its complexity, the report said, with 90 amendments to the Public Order Act passed since 1986.[90]

The report recommended that the Home Secretary issue guidance to the 44 police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to make sure they know how to facilitate peaceful protest; the creation of a set of national principles emphasizing the minimum use of force at all times; and an overhaul of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to make it more accountable. O'Connor also recommended that the privacy and human rights concerns about Forward Intelligence Teams (surveillance units that film activists and retain their data) be taken seriously.[9] Regarding the display of officers' ID, O'Connor wrote that visible ID numbers are not required by law in England and Wales, but are a matter for individual chief constables. The Met dress code does require these to be worn, correct and visible at all times; the Operation Glencoe Gold Commander had stressed this during briefings, and the report said the overwhelming majority of officers did adhere to the dress code during the protests. The report recommended making the display of police ID a legal requirement, and in February 2010 the Met announced that 8,000 of its officers had been issued with embroidered epaulettes, as several had complained that the numbers were falling off, rather than being removed deliberately.[91]

Legal aftermath[edit]

Decision not to prosecute[edit]

On the first anniversary of Tomlinson's death, The Guardian published an open letter from several public figures, including academics, MEPs, trade unionists and a Tomlinson family representative, asking the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to proceed with a prosecution or explain their position.[92] On 22 July 2010 Keir Starmer, director of the CPS, announced that there would be no prosecution because of the medical disagreement between the three pathologists. Freddy Patel's conclusion about natural causes conflicted with the conclusions of Nathaniel Cary and Kenneth Shorrock, who found that the cause of death was internal bleeding caused by blunt force trauma to the abdomen, in association with cirrhosis of the liver.[4]

The CPS said the conflict made prosecution difficult, because Patel was the only pathologist to have seen Tomlinson's body intact, placing him in the best position to make a judgment, which meant his evidence would undermine that of the other two pathologists. The CPS described the disagreement between the pathologists as an irreconcilable conflict, and concluded it would therefore not be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that there was a causal link between Tomlinson's death and the alleged assault. Starmer said there was enough evidence to charge the officer with assault, but there was a six-month deadline for that, which had expired.[4]

Conflict between autopsies[edit]

The area of conflict concerned Patel's finding of "intraabdominal fluid blood about 3l with small blood clot." According to Keir Starmer, this was interpreted by other medical experts to mean that Patel had found three litres of blood in Tomlinson's abdomen. Starmer said this would have been around 60 percent of Tomlinson's blood volume, a "highly significant indicator of the cause of death."[4]

A year later, on 6 April 2010, Patel introduced an ambiguity in a second report for the CPS, saying he had found "intraabdominal fluid with blood about 3l with small blood clot" (emphasis added). The ambiguity had to be clarified, because the second and third pathologists had relied in part on Patel's original notes to form their views. Patel was interviewed twice by the CPS. According to Starmer, Patel told them "the total fluid was somewhat in excess of three litres but that it was mainly ascites (a substance which forms in a damaged liver), which had been stained with blood." Starmer said Patel had not retained or sampled the fluid to determine the proportion of blood in it. Patel said he had handled blood all his professional life and knew that this was not blood, but blood-stained ascites. Patel also said he had found no internal rupture that would have led to this degree of blood loss.[4]

Starmer said that several conclusions were drawn from discussions between Patel and the CPS: (a) because Patel had not retained or sampled the three litres of fluid, no firm conclusions could be drawn about the nature of it; (b) for Tomlinson's death to have resulted so quickly from blood loss, there would have to have been a significant internal rupture; (c) Patel found no such rupture; (d) the later postmortems also found no visible rupture; and (e) because Patel was the only person to have examined Tomlinson's intact body, he was in the best position to judge the nature of the fluid, and whether there was a rupture that could have caused it. This meant that Patel's evidence would significantly undermine the evidence of the second and third pathologists.[4]

Nathaniel Cary, the second pathologist, objected to the CPS's decision. Cary told The Guardian that the push had caused a haemorrhage to Tomlinson's abdomen, and the haemorrhage caused him to collapse a minute or two later. Cary said Tomlinson was vulnerable to this because he had liver disease.[54] He told the newspaper the CPS had erred in dismissing a charge of actual bodily harm (ABH). In a letter to Tomlinson's family, the CPS described Tomlinson's injuries as "relatively minor," and therefore insufficient to support such a charge. But Cary told The Guardian: "The injuries were not relatively minor. He sustained quite a large area of bruising. Such injuries are consistent with a baton strike, which could amount to ABH. It's extraordinary. If that's not ABH I would like to know what is."[93]

Inquest[edit]

The inquest was opened and adjourned on 9 April 2009. The City of London coroner, Paul Matthews, expressed concern about whether he had appropriate expertise, and Peter Thornton QC, who specializes in protest law, took over.[94] The inquest opened on 28 March 2011 before a jury. The court heard from Professor Kevin Channer, a cardiologist at Royal Hallamshire Hospital, who analysed electrocardiogram (ECG) data from the defibrillator paramedics had used on Tomlinson. He said the readings were inconsistent with an arrhythmic heart attack, but consistent with a death from internal bleeding. Pathologist Nat Carey concurred regarding the cause of death. Liver expert Dr. Graeme Alexander said that in his opinion Tomlinson had died of internal bleeding as a result of trauma to the liver after the fall. He told the court that Tomlinson already suffered from serious liver disease, which would have made him susceptible to collapse from internal bleeding.[95]

PC Simon Harwood gave evidence over three days. He said that Tomlinson "just looked as if he was going to stay where he was forever and was almost inviting physical confrontation in terms of being moved on." He said he had not warned Tomlinson before he struck and pushed him, and had acted because Tomlinson was encroaching a police line, which amounted to a breach of the peace.[96] The court heard that Tomlinson's last words after collapsing were, "they got me, the fuckers got me"; he died moments later. On 3 May the jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing. They ruled that the officer – Harwood was not named for legal reasons – had used excessive and unreasonable force in hitting Tomlinson, and had acted "illegally, recklessly and dangerously."[97]

IPCC reports[edit]

In May 2011 the IPCC released three reports into Tomlinson's death, written between April 2010 and May 2011. The main report contained material revealed during the inquest. The third detailed an allegation from Tomlinson's family that the police had offered misleading information to the pathologists before the third autopsy on 22 April 2009. The Met's point of contact for Tomlinson's death, Detective Inspector Eddie Hall, told the pathologists that Tomlinson had fallen to the ground in front of a police van earlier in the evening, although there was no evidence to support this. The IPCC ruled that Hall had been reckless in making this claim, but had not intended to mislead the pathologists.[56]

Trial of Simon Harwood[edit]

Regina -v- Simon Harwood
photograph
Courthouse at 1 English Grounds, London SE1
Court Southwark Crown Court
Date opened 18 June 2012
Judge The Honourable Mr Justice Fulford
Defendant Simon Harwood
Charge Manslaughter
Prosecution Mark Dennis QC
Defence Patrick Gibbs QC
Verdict Not guilty
Date of decision 19 July 2012

Keir Starmer, director of the CPS, announced on 24 May 2011 that a summons for manslaughter had been issued against Harwood. He said the CPS had reviewed its decision not to prosecute because new medical evidence had emerged during the inquest, and because the various medical accounts, including that of the first pathologist, had been tested during questioning.[5] The trial opened on 18 June 2012. Harwood entered a plea of not guilty, and was acquitted on 19 July.[2]

The court was shown extensive video footage of Tomlinson and Harwood on the day. Harwood was seen trying to arrest a man who had daubed graffiti on a police van, then joining a line of officers who were clearing Royal Exchange Passage. Harwood pushed a man who blew a vuvuzela at him, then appeared to push a BBC cameraman who was filming the arrest of another man; the latter had punched a police officer who was standing next to Harwood. The footage showed Harwood push a third man out of the way, and shortly after this (the passageway was now almost empty) the officers reached Tomlinson. Tomlinson was standing near a bicycle rack with his hands in his pockets, and began to walk slowly away from the police. Moments later Harwood struck him with the baton, then turned to walk in the other direction.[98]

Mark Dennis QC, for the prosecution, argued that Harwood's use of force against Tomlinson had been unnecessary and unreasonable, and had caused Tomlinson's death. He argued that a "clear temporal link" between the incident and Tomlinson's collapse had been provided by the La Jaunie/Guardian video, that Tomlinson had posed no threat, and that the use of force had been a "gratuitous act of aggression."[99] The defence argued that Tomlinson's health was relevant. The court heard that he had liver and brain disease caused by alcohol abuse, numbness in his legs and balance problems, and had been treated at least 20 times between 2007 and 2006, mostly at A&E departments, related to falling while drunk. On the day he died, The Times reported, he had drunk a bottle of red wine, a small bottle of vodka and several cans of 9-per-cent super-strength lager.[100]

Harwood told the court that Tomlinson had ignored orders to move along. He acknowledged that he had pushed Tomlinson firmly, but said he had not expected him to fall.[101] He also acknowledged that he had "got it wrong," and said he had not realized Tomlinson was in such poor health. The jury found him not guilty after deliberating for four days.[2]

Dismissal, civil suit[edit]

Harwood was dismissed from the Metropolitan Police Service in September 2012 after a disciplinary hearing found that he had acted with "gross misconduct" in his actions towards Tomlinson.[102] Tomlinson's family filed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police, which paid the family an undisclosed sum in August 2013. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Maxine de Brunner also issued a formal apology for "Simon Harwood's use of excessive and unlawful force, which caused Mr Tomlinson's death, and for the suffering and distress caused to his family as a result."[103]

Sources[edit]

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    Peter Walker, "Ian Tomlinson case: PC Simon Harwood sacked for gross misconduct", The Guardian, 17 September 2012.

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    For "peaceful environmentalists to violent anarchists," Lyall (New York Times), 30 May 2009.

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    Caroline Gammell, "G20: The last moments of Ian Tomlinson", The Daily Telegraph, 18 April 2009.

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  36. ^ INQUEST (PDF), p. 11.
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    "That officer sent two police medics through the cordon line and into St Michaels Alley where they found a man who had stopped breathing. They called for LAS 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.

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    The IPCC's guidelines at the time said that incidents should be referred to them where "persons have died or been seriously injured following some form of direct or indirect contact with the police and there is reason to believe that the contact may have caused or contributed to the death or serious injury."

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    "Ian Tomlinson inquest verdict", The Guardian, 3 May 2011.

    "CPS statement following conclusion of inquest into death of Ian Tomlinson", Crown Prosecution Service, 3 May 2011.

  98. ^ Peter Walker, "Ian Tomlinson jury shown video of moments before his death", The Guardian, 19 June 2012.

    Victoria Ward, "G20 protests: Tomlinson family weep at final footage", The Daily Telegraph, 19 June 2012.

  99. ^ Victoria Ward, "Officer who struck out at Ian Tomlinson had 'lost control'", The Daily Telegraph, 18 June 2012.
  100. ^ "Tomlinson's sudden death 'did not obey any of the medical rules'", The Times, 20 July 2012.
  101. ^ Peter Walker, "Ian Tomlinson seemed deliberately obstructive, police officer tells court", The Guardian, 2 July 2012.
  102. ^ Peter Walker, "Ian Tomlinson case: PC Simon Harwood guilty of gross misconduct", The Guardian, 17 September 2012.
  103. ^ Matthew Taylor, "Ian Tomlinson's family win apology from Met police over death in 2009", The Guardian, 5 August 2013.

Further reading[edit]

Video of Tomlinson
Video taken nearby