The Ian Tomlinson Affair Explodes

First he died of ‘natural causes’, after ‘no prior contact’ with the Metropolitan Police.

Then they ‘protected’ him from a ‘bottle throwing mob’.

Then we find out that they lied about everything. We find that the pathologist responsible for the initial post-mortem had a questionable background in just such scenarios involving the police. We find he was actually hit and shoved forcefully from behind by a Territorial Support Group (TSG) riot police officer, who had masked his features and removed his ID tags (as had many of his colleagues that day). We find the crowd posed no threat whatsoever either to them or Tomlinson.

(photo source)

Now we find Ian Tomlinson really died of an abdominal haemorrage. There is now evidence to link the police attack directly with his death – ‘kettling’ and a presumption of a lack of humanity of all protesters and those in the vicinity appears to have led directly to the manslaughter of an entirely innocent man.

The IPCC this afternoon said:

“Following the initial results of the second postmortem, a Metropolitan police officer has been interviewed under caution for the offence of manslaughter as part of an ongoing inquiry into the death of Ian Tomlinson.”

Get out of that one, apologists. I would however hope that should the investigation prove beyond doubt that the TSG officer caused his death, that he not be scapegoated. His behaviour was far from unique that afternoon – this is the fault of the Met as an institution, not one man.

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11 responses to “The Ian Tomlinson Affair Explodes

  1. This is sickening.

    I agree about the scapegoating, I’m sure there was plenty of similar stuff going on all over the place on that day – this guy was particularly unlucky, and the person he hit died.

    Having said that, it’s such a shame that EVERY officer is now going to be tarred with the same brush, and they’re not all bad.

  2. They aren’t indeed. This is what the biggest tragedy is going to be for the Met for the foreseeable future – how will good policing get noticed or even have a chance while the force is in freefall because of a failure of leadership?

    So Sir Paul Stephenson is going to review crowd management tactics eh? The problem is far more deep rooted than that, it goes up as far as him. When you have a new Commissioner who dismisses the entire concept of institutional racism, you know you have someone who is thoroughly disinterested in reforming the attitudes and practices which are causing the Met to fail once again…

  3. I think it is more far reaching than even the Met. I wonder what instructions were issued to the Police prior to the protests. The government is no doubt very worried that the way things are going in terms of the global economy, that these protests will be the tip of the iceberg and could lead to general civil unrest. They knew that hundreds of thousands of people would be descending on the capital, and that it could get very ugly, especially with anarchists involved.

    The irony is that the behaviour of the Police was ugly. Yes some demonstrators stepped beyond their legal right of civil protest, but to attack an innocent man (and woman) is totally abhorent. Serious questions now have to be asked about not only the Met but also the government’s involvement. What were the orders?

    Of course, it does not help when according to the media, bankers were taunting the crowds by tangling £10 notes in front of them. Have they no shame? The audacity of these people who got the country into the mess it is in, is unbelieveable.

  4. If it is proved that the use of the baton and/or the shove was the sole cause of abdominal bleeding – and abdominal bleeding is given as the official cause of death; where does this leave us?

    If police officers face the risk of criminal charges for employing normal operational procedures, there isn’t a man in the country who’d want to remain a police officer, is there?

  5. I think that would be true if we were talking about normal operating procedures. It’s not commonly understood to be a normal procedure to batter peaceful, lawful climate protesters in the street, with zero provocation is it? I’m sure you’ve seen more videos than merely the ones I’ve displayed, showing the full extent of that behaviour. For that matter, although the Law Lords have currently allowed kettling to remain lawful, the European Court is soon to hear a test case regarding its lawfulness on human rights grounds. Should it be acceptable to lump a majority of peaceful protesters, random members of the public and a tiny minority of trouble makers together in a pen for hours, not allow people even to go to the toilet, and then only let them out when they’ve been ID’d and photographed for their unaccountable, near-secret FIT database? Is precriminalisation really now a normal operating procedure? Are you happy with that?

    Noone has said that the police shouldn’t be there to maintain order at protests, demonstrations, or any large gathering. But that’s a far cry from giving them carte blanche to use extreme violence quite literally on whomever they choose for any reason that comes into their heads, isn’t it?

  6. I don’t think it’s a normal operating procedure for even a TSG officer to use a balaclava to mask his features, to remove his ID tags and then hit people who aren’t even involved in the protest and don’t appreciate being ever-closer kettled. Do you?

  7. Unfortunately it appears that what happened is normal operating procedure. The attitude displayed by the police inspector when asked to identify himself at the protest the following day clearly demonstrates that there is an attitude of contempt for any member of the public who cares – or dares – to take part in a protest. These are not isolated examples of individuals acting outside the law.

    The pre-emptive action against the Nottingham protests, along with the draconian bail conditions set following their arrest are another strand of the coordinated restriction of our freedom to protest.

    Unrestricted use of violence and intimidation, systematic covering up of evidence, dubious post mortems on alleged victims, systematic abuse of anti-terrorist legislation…..the list just goes on and on. Is this merely shameful or is it really frightening?

  8. When are we ever going to get to the actual bottom of this story?

    The facts are being dragged kicking and screaming into the light.

  9. Jason, I normally agree with everything you write and I assure you, I’m really not enjoying having to disagree agree on this one thing.

    I do concede that certainly disciplinary action needs to be taken against those who deliberately tried to avoid being identified – for whatever reason. Although on reflection, if I was a copper and and I had to be mindful of the fact that millions of people would be dissecting every little move I made during a busy protest, I might have done the same.

    However, on this specific issue, I just don’t see how whacking someone across the back of the legs with a pretty lightweight stick equates to extreme violence, and if we’re now at a stage whereby every time the Police use a baton it can be construed as being an assault, the future of effective policing is fucked because officers will no longer be able to rely on having their judgement in such situations backed up.

    Furthermore, when did we get to this stage whereby people think the Police can only use a baton in extreme circumstances? During large protests where many people are hell bent on causing trouble and the police have no idea who they are amongst the peaceful demonstrators, what’s wrong with a baton being a basic tool of compliance, acquiescence or obedience? The police certainly need to be able to respond in other ways to those who don’t comply with verbal instructions in such situations.

  10. Look at this:

    http://london.indymedia.org.uk/videos/993

    Is this a case of coppers innocently worried about millions of people ‘dissecting every little move’? I can show you the further videos and eyewitness testimonies of brutal and bloody attacks, of which Ian Tomlinson indeed was a minor example. You might have masked your identity? Since when do the police (or should the police) have the right to escape public scrutiny? It’s a commonly held perception that there’s the need for a police service of some kind – where the implicit argument comes from that there are ‘millions’ of people out there ready to take them apart for ‘mistakes’ I simply don’t understand. There should be millions of people out there who are ready to take them apart when they behave in a criminal, unlawful manner. I don’t know a soul who thinks it was right for them to kettle innocents and protesters alike for multiple hours, and then only release people when they agreed to be ID’d and photographed for their disgusting, pre-criminalising FIT database, which the executive, legislature and judiciary alike have zero oversight or control over. I don’t know a soul who thinks attacking innocent protesters, passers-by or journalists was something which can be written off, and I don’t agree that ‘every time the police use a baton it can be construed as being an assault’ – far from it. There were specific instances where, with photographic, video and eyewitness evidence it most certainly was an assault. The future of effective policing is being fucked by cops who are unable to determine for themselves when it is and isn’t acceptable to do so. It’s the reason oversight over them is needed (you refer to it as ‘scrutiny’).

    During large protests where many people are hell bent on causing trouble and the police have no idea who they are amongst the peaceful demonstrators, what’s wrong with a baton being a basic tool of compliance, acquiescence or obedience?

    If you don’t already understand what is so worrying about that statement, I don’t really know what to add. The Met promised violence in advance of the day – Bob Broadhurst pretty much advertised it. It’s no wonder that his people were ready for it and duly delivered, and it’s shocking to me that so many people seem ready to write it off, considering so few protesters were violent themselves. Violence, particularly by the police, must always be a last resort, and in their case must be proportionate if used. The cases where that wasn’t that day are legion, and what should happen to them and the commanders who legitimised it should be far more than just ‘disciplinary action’.

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