The police report into the death of anti-racist campaigner and Socialist Workers Party member Blair Peach should finally be published more than 30 years after he was killed at an Anti-Nazi League demonstration in Southall, west London.
Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, agreed last week that it should be made public following a unanimous decision by the Metropolitan Police Authority.
Blair’s family, friends and comrades will welcome this news. Yet there is still some way to go in finding the truth about events of Monday 23 April 1979.
That’s because Stephenson is insisting on reviewing the report, written by former police commander John Cass, to ensure redactions – or deletions – are made concerning “legal issues and fairness” before its publication.
So we could get a repeat of the farce that accompanied the release of MPs’ expenses – blacked-out sections hiding awkward detail. How can we trust the commissioner to decide on what is “fair”? Fair to who?
Jenny Jones, who tabled the motion at the Metropolitan Police Authority, told Socialist Worker that publication of the report is a victory, but that, “Any redactions by the Metropolitan Police must be justified and be reasonable or that’s another fight to be had.”
However, no one should expect that the publication of Cass’s report will end the matter.
In 1979 Cass led an instant cover-up of the events surrounding Blair’s injuries.
He was banging down our comrades’ door in Ealing within two hours of Blair’s death, demanding his clothes and belongings.
He came back with officers around 9am to arrest the few of us still at that address.
Cass told Guardian journalist Paul Lewis recently that he has no qualms about the report being disclosed.
We must ensure through our unions and anti-racist organisation that his full original version is published – and that this is just the start of getting the truth of how Blair was killed.