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Where’s the justice? PC Harwood found not guilty of manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson – civil claim looks likely
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Yesterday a jury found PC Simon Harwood not guilty of the manslaughter of the newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protest some three years ago. The Guardian extensively reports the story.
Unlike the jury in the inquest, who took 3 hours to decide that Ian Tomlinson was unlawfully killed by a police officer, the jury in the criminal case for whatever reason didn’t feel able to find a guilty verdict.
It is part of a repeating pattern of police officers escaping criminal justice for deaths in police custody – Inquest reports that of 1433 death following police custody or contact since 1990, not one has resulted in an officer being convicted of manslaughter.
Following the trial the papers including the Guardian have now published details of PC Harwood’s past including allegations that he ‘punched, throttled, kneed, threatened and unlawfully arrested people.’ He retired from the police following an alleged road rage incident in 2001 and then somehow managed to re-join the force.
A lot of criticism has been levelled at the police tactics on the day of the demonstration and whether the kettling techniques used created unnecessary tension and a ‘pressure cooker’ situation.
The IPCC has also faced criticism for initially resisting calls to open a full investigation.
Clearly if the incident had not been filmed and then broadcast on social media the family may never have known how Ian Tomlinson came to meet his death and PC Simon Harwood would probably never have been charged with manslaughter. It is getting harder and harder for the police to hide from the wider scrutiny of the public gaze when policing demonstrations.
The family have said they will take civil action to try and secure some sort of justice and I hope they are successful as this not guilty verdict must have been a terrible blow after their years of campaigning.
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