Socialist Worker

Ian Tomlinson: Pathologist’s changes let the police off the hook

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2216

The pathologist who carried out the first examination of Ian Tomlinson changed key wording from his original postmortem—which made it harder to prosecute anyone for his death.

Ian Tomlinson died after he was struck by PC Simon Harwood during the G20 protests in London in April last year.

Pathologist Dr Freddy Patel’s original report read that he found three litres of “fluid blood” in Ian’s stomach.

Yet 12 months later Patel changed the sentence to replace “fluid blood” with “fluid with blood” in another report.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) used this discrepancy to argue that it could not be sure that Ian died of internal bleeding.

This was instrumental in the CPS agreeing with the Independent Police Complaints Commission that there was no case to answer for Harwood or any other officer involved.

Harwood is a member of the Met’s Territorial Support Group. Mobile phone footage showed him pushing Ian Tomlinson from behind and hitting him with a baton.

No officer has been prosecuted over Ian Tomlinson’s death.

  • Dr Freddy Patel was on the Home Office register of forensic pathologists.

    He should have met strict criteria to enable him to investigate suspicious deaths—but he failed to do so.

    Patel did not preserve the fluid he found in Ian’s stomach. This meant subsequent post-mortems could not investigate it. He also carried out the post-mortem alone.

    Patel is now being investigated by the General Medical Council. He faces allegations that he mishandled four postmortem examinations between September 2002 and January 2005. He denies misconduct.

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Article information

Tue 24 Aug 2010, 17:30 BST
Issue No. 2216
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