23 July 2010

Boys in black (part 1)

Yesterday the Director of Public Prosecutions announced that no charges would be brought against the policeman who struck and knocked down Ian Tomlinson (video here), who died a little later. The incident took place while the usual yahoos were demonstrating against the G 20 summit on April Fool's day last year.

Tomlinson's offence appears to have been a surly unwillingness to get out of the way of the riot police and their dogs. Police Constable Simon Harwood, who resigned from the Metropolitan Police in the late 1990s following an incident of road rage, and faced a charge of excessive force when employed by the Surrey police, has been suspended ever since the Tomlinson incident. Coroner Mohmed Saeed Sulema Patel, who found COD to be heart failure despite evidence of internal bleeding, has also been suspended.

The real scandals here are that Harwood was ever re-employed by the Metropolitan Police, let alone assigned to riot control, and that Patel was still employed by the Home Office. He was disciplined by the General Medical Council in 1999 for telling reporters that Roger Sylvester, a 30-year-old who died in police custody, was a crack cocaine user, and has 26 charges pending before the General Medical Council relating to four post mortem examinations carried out between 2002 and 2004.

It follows, does it not, that whoever appointed Patel to perform the autopsy on Tomlinson surely knew there was a good chance he would make such a mess of it that, whatever his findings, the DPP would be unable to proceed to a prosecution of Harwood with any hope of a conviction. 

I don't know how anyone can summon up genuine indignation about this latest manifestation of police impunity. The creation of reasonable doubt around the illegal actions of its members has been standard operating procedure for the British police for as long as I can remember.

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