Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Blair Peach report released - after 30 years

After over 30 years a report into the death of Blair Peach on an anti-fascist protest in Southall, West London, has been released. Peach was killed after being attacked by Special Patrol Group officers on 23 April 1979. This report, by Commander Cass, has been repressed ever since.

The following reactions to the report have been released by INQUEST:

Celia Stubbs, partner of Blair Peach, said:

This report totally vindicates what we have always believed – that Blair was killed by one of six officers from Unit 1 of the Special Patrol Group whose names have been in the public domain over all these years: Insp Murray, PC White, PC Richardson, PC Scottow, PC Freestone and PS Lake. That serves only to emphasise that there can be no excuse for the way in which the writer of the report, like the police generally, sought to criminalise the many protestors including Blair at the demonstration against the National Front election meeting.

Celia Stubb’s solicitor, Raju Bhatt of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, said:

The mindset of Commander Cass and his approach to his investigation is betrayed by the following excerpt from his report where he sought to define its terms of reference and context:


My brief is to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death, so I do not propose to enlarge much further on the events of that day except to emphasise that it was an extremely violent volatile and ugly situation where there was serious disturbance by what can be classed as a ‘rebellious crowd’. The legal definition ‘unlawful assembly’ is justified and the event should be viewed with that kind of atmosphere prevailing. Without condoning the death I refer to Archbold 38th edition para 2528: “In case of riot or rebellious assembly the officers endeavouring to disperse the riot are justified in killing them at common law if the riot cannot otherwise be suppressed [sic].”

It is telling that, despite these instincts, the investigation was driven by the weight of the evidence to conclude that the fatal blow to Blair Peach was struck by a police officer whose actions were then concealed by his brother officers. A clear and unequivocal acknowledgement to that effect is now required from the Metropolitan Police, so that we can all be confident that the years of obfuscation and prevarication have been left behind for once and for all.

Deborah Coles, Co-Director of INQUEST said:

The family, friends and community have waited for 31 years for some public recognition and acknowledgement that the police were responsible for Blair’s death. We call upon Sir Paul Stephenson to publicly acknowledge for the first time that a Metropolitan Police officer was responsible for Blair’s death. The whole police investigation into what happened on 23 April 1979 was clearly designed as an exercise in managing the fallout from the events of that iconic day in Southall, to exonerate police violence in the face of legitimate public protest. The echoes of that exercise sound across the decades to the events of the G20 protest and the death of Ian Tomlinson in 2009.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

A year on, we still wait for answers about Ian Tomlinson's death

From today's Guardian:

A year on, we still wait for answers about Ian Tomlinson's death

It has now been one year since the tragic death of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests in the City of London on 1 April. While we appreciate a fair and thorough investigation takes time, Ian's grieving family has been left in limbo for a year waiting for a full explanation about the circumstances of his death. There is now very real concern as to whether the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) proposes to charge anyone in respect of the assault and death of Ian.

The CPS has been in possession of the provisional Independent PoliceComplaints Commission investigation findings since August 2009. We understand that these findings, at least in part, will provide the basis for a decision on whether to prosecute anyone for Ian's death. We also note that the director of public prosecutions said in a Guardian interview (21 September 2009) that he hoped the CPS would reach a decision "within a few months".

Delays in the investigation and charging decisions increase the suffering for families of victims leaving them unable to gain closure and move on with their lives. Families are greatly concerned not to prejudice the process and are therefore effectively silenced from expressing their views publicly about the death of their loved one. They are desperate to ensure any potential future legal proceedings are not undermined nor an excuse found to abandon any cases that might be brought. The Tomlinson family has endured a year of public scrutiny unable to respond to questions about Ian's death, with little they can do but wait for the outcome of a decision. The delay however is now intolerable.

The policing of the G20 protest caused widespread public concern around use of excessive force by police officers. Proceedings against many protestors arrested on the day, as well as a number of reviews and investigations into the events of the day, have all been concluded. In the case of Ian Tomlinson, there is a heightened need for the statutory investigating body to be seen to be carrying out justice in a robust, transparent and timely manner to address public confidence. One year later the public, like the Tomlinson family, are still left with unanswered questions about how and why Ian died at the G20.

In the absence of any updates from the CPS, we have growing concerns about the investigation into Ian's death. There has been a complete lack of communication and transparency about the delay into concluding the investigation into Ian's death that calls the CPS's credibility into question.

As we have already set out, we do not wish to prejudice any investigation or potential proceedings but believe that either a decision or public explanation is due. We call on the CPS to fulfill its public duty regarding the investigation into the death of Ian Tomlinson.

Julia Tomlinson, Ian Tomlinson Family Campaign

Estelle du Boulay, Newham Monitoring Project

John McDonnell MP

Dr Caroline Lucas MEP

Jean Lambert MEP

Bob Crowe, RMT

Mark Serwotka, Public and Commercial Services Union

Shami Chakrabarti, Liberty

Deborah Coles, Inquest

Vivian Figueiredo, on behalf of the family of Jean Charles de Menezes

Samantha Rigg-David, on behalf of the family of Sean Rigg

Penny Green, professor of law and criminology, King's College London

Samantha Patterson, sister of Jason Mcpherson

Terry Stewart, The Friends of Blair Peach

Jenny Jones, Green party Metropolitan Police Authority member

Peter Herbert, Society of Black Lawyers

Cllr Duwayne Brooks, Liberal Democrat for Downham Ward

Pete Firmin and Andrew Fisher, Labour Representation Committee

Darren Johnson, Member of London Assembly

Frances Wright, Camp for Climate Action

Val Swain and Emily Apple, Fit watch

Pragna Patel, Southall Black Sisters

Sukhwant Dhaliwal, Women Against Fundamentalism.

Christine Shawcroft, Labour Briefing

David Rosenberg, Jewish Socialists' Group

Patrick Ward, United Campaign Against Police Violence

Estella Schmid, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities

Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya, sociology and public policy, Aston University

Councillor Romayne Phoenix, London Green party campaigns co-ordinator

Joseph Healy, Green party regional councillor for London

Andy Hewitt, co-chair of the Green party trade union group

Teresa Delaney, co-chair of the Green party trade union group

Frances Webber, human rights lawyer

Harriet Wistrich, solicitor at Birnberg Peirce

Ronan Toal, barrister, Garden Court Chambers

Hossein Zahir, barrister, Garden Court Chambers

David Watkinson, Garden Court Chambers

Anya Lewis, Garden Court Chambers

Richard J Harvey, Garden Court Chambers

David Emanuel, Garden Court Chambers

Yasin Patel, 25 Bedford Row Chambers

Rajiv Menon, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers

Professor Mick Ryan, former chair of Inquest

Zoe Mercer, When No One is Watching Campaign

Dr Emma Williamson, Research Fellow, Centre for Gender and Violence Research, University of Bristol

Professor Phil Scraton, Queen's University, Belfast

Dr Sacha Darke, senior lecturer in socio-legal studies and criminology, Department of Social and Historical Studies, University of Westminster

Mohan Ambikaipaker, University of Texas

Yasmin Khan, War on Want

Camilla Graham Wood

Alastair Morgan

Doctor Sheila Preston

Nick Moseley

Zareena Mustafa

Jill Phillips

Guy Williams

Simon Mercer

Lochlinn Parker

Sally Stanton

Jack Gordon Harris

Rachael Horner

Chris Heatley

David Mery

Sam Walton

Fiona Harrington

Bruce Benjamin