Socialist Worker

Ian Tomlinson: Riot cops escape justice

by Patrick Ward
Issue No. 2212

Supporters of the family of Ian Tomlinson outside Scotland Yard on Thursday of last week  (Pic: Smallman )

Supporters of the family of Ian Tomlinson outside Scotland Yard on Thursday of last week (Pic: Guy Smallman)

No police officers are to be charged over the death of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson at last year’s G20 protests in the City of London.

Ian’s family branded the decision a “disgrace”, as the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) refused to charge Territorial Support Group officer PC Simon Harwood with any offence.

The CPS reported its decision on the fifth anniversary of the shooting of another innocent man, Jean Charles de Menezes, at Stockwell tube station in 2005.

Ian Tomlinson, 47, was trying to walk home through the protests against the G20 near the Bank of England on 1 April 2009.

Video footage clearly showed PC Simon Harwood with his identification numbers covered and a scarf covering his face as he struck Ian from behind with a baton. Ian died soon afterwards.

His family are now considering whether to appeal against the decision.

Paul King, Ian’s stepson, said it was “a huge cover-up”. He said that Kier Starmer, the director for public prosecutions, “admitted on TV that a copper assaulted our dad.

“But he hasn’t done anything. He’s the man in charge...why hasn’t he charged him?

“They knew if they dragged this out long enough, they would avoid charges. They knew just what they were doing.”

The CPS originally told the family that their decision into whether and how to charge the officer in question would be made public by Christmas 2009.

There are hundreds of hours of footage that was pieced together to show the last 30 minutes of Ian’s life.

Yet the CPS blamed conflicting reports from the three pathologists who carried out autopsies on him for its refusal to press charges.

Dr Mohmed Saeed Sulema Patel, known as Freddy Patel, carried out the first autopsy.

It took place at the request of the police two days after Ian Tomlinson’s death.


In his report Patel concluded that the death was “consistent with natural causes”, yet claimed to find three litres of fluid in Ian’s abdomen.

This would have been a “highly significant indicator of the cause of death”, according to the CPS.

However, Patel disposed of the fluid, meaning later postmortems were less reliable.

Both subsequent postmortems concluded that Ian’s death was the result of “abdominal haemorrhage from blunt force trauma to the abdomen, in association with alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver”.

Patel was suspended from the Home Office register of accredited forensic pathologists last June after other controversial autopsies.

He is also the focus on an ongoing inquiry by the General Medical Council, where he stands accused of incompetently performing four autopsies.

In 2002 Patel carried out a post mortem on the body of Sally White.

She was found locked in the bedroom of a north London flat of Anthony Hardy, an alcoholic with psychiatric problems.

Detectives initially treated the case as suspicious, but Patel said that she died of natural causes.

Following his report, Hardy killed another two women.

In 1999 Patel also caused outrage when he told journalists that Roger Sylvester, a 30 year old who died in police custody, “was a user of crack cocaine”.

The campaign to win justice for Ian Tomlinson will continue.

Protest—Friday 30 July, 12 till 2, 2 Southwark Bridge, London SE1

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.