Socialist Worker

Ian Tomlinson: cop faces inquest

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2246

The police officer who pushed Ian Tomlinson just minutes before he died during the G20 protests gave evidence at the inquest into his death on Monday and Tuesday this week.

Tomlinson was passing the protest in the City of London on 1 April 2009. He died after coming into contact with police as he tried to make his way home.

PC Simon Harwood, a member of the Territorial Support Group (TSG) riot squad, answered questions from Alison Hewitt, counsel for the inquest.

Harwood was warned by acting coroner Judge Thornton, “You are not obliged to answer any question tending to incriminate you.”

Members of Ian Tomlinson’s family left the room in tears as he replied, “I’m here to answer questions, just to help.”

Footage of Harwood’s movements on the day was shown to the inquest.

He admitted he pulled a cameraman to the ground and used a “palm strike” on a man trying to get through a cordon.

And he gave an account of how he pushed Tomlinson.

“I struck Mr Tomlinson around the upper half of the left leg—his thigh—with my baton,” Harwood said.

He said he didn’t get an “immediate reaction”, and so pushed him in his right shoulder “with my right palm”.

He said he waited “seconds, perhaps a couple of seconds” between the baton strike and the push.

But after seeing a slowed-down video, he conceded it did appear one action “followed another”.

On Monday morning, the inquest heard from Inspector Timothy Williams, who worked with Harwood in the TSG unit in Catford.

The Tomlinson family’s solicitor drew attention to part of Williams’ statement where he talked about attending a briefing with the Commissioner of the City of London Police.

His statement said the commissioner had told them: “We treat the lawful protesters with kid gloves, that is the approach you should take, and deal with those using violence with an iron fist.”

Under questioning, he said “iron fist” was “a phrase which I didn’t consider necessarily to be helpful”.

But he added that he understood by it that “if disorder or violence breaks out, then that is to be dealt with robustly”.

The inquest continues.

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Tue 5 Apr 2011, 18:23 BST
Issue No. 2246
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