Socialist Worker

Why top cop's head should roll

by a criminal defence solicitor
Issue No. 2232

The last Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Ian Blair, resigned in large part because he misled the public about the police shooting of Jean Charles De Menezes in 2005.

His successor, Sir Paul Stephenson, appears to have a similarly troubled relationship with the truth.

During last Thursday’s student protest, Stephenson proclaimed that any “right minded person” seeing the violence on their television would want to condemn it.

It was an extraordinary announcement given that the live rolling BBC coverage had just shown police horses charging into protesters for no obvious reason.

A week or so earlier, Stephenson had denied that there had been a police charge on students during a previous protest—until video evidence materialised that contradicted his assertion.

The disturbing case of philosophy student Alfie Meadows, who was hit on the head by a police truncheon and needed emergency brain surgery (see page 3), is worryingly similar to what happened to Blair Peach.

He was killed by a blow to the head from a police officer on a protest 30 years ago.

I haven’t yet heard any Stephenson press statement on the violence against many young students, nor any apology to these victims.


The commissioner claims he supports the right to peaceful protest. Yet before last week’s demonstration he made a direct call for people not to join it.

Since when has it been the role of a police commissioner to tell people not to protest?

Presenting himself as a common parent, he said he would not let his children join the demonstration.

Given that he earns £250,000 a year, it is perhaps a little unlikely that his children are relying on the Education Maintenance Allowance, or that they will be put off going to college by the fear of debt.

And the commissioner has previous form in opposing protests.

In 2009, he criticised the remarkable 73-day protest by Tamils in Parliament Square who were trying to stop the slaughter of 30,000 of their fellow nationals in Sri Lanka.

On the 43rd day he invited government intervention, complaining that the protests were a “huge drain”.

Stephenson should resign—not for allowing the royals to be startled, but for his contempt for young people, his disdain for the truth, and his attempts to curtail our right to protest.

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