The Crown Prosecution Service has said there is no charge to answer in the case of a newspaper vendor who died during G20 protests in London. Leah Borromeo disagrees
The police officer filmed pushing Ian Tomlinson to the ground will not face criminal charges, the Crown Prosecution Service said today.
The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, announced this morning that the officer — called PC ‘A’ — shown here pushing the 47-year-old former newspaper vendor to the ground at the 2009 G20 demonstrations in London, has no case to answer.
PC ‘A’ can be seen hitting Tomlinson with a baton and pushing him over at the South end of the Royal Exchange Buildings in the City of London. Demonstrators helped Tomlinson up and he is later seen staggering down the road. He later collapsed outside 77 Cornhill and died from internal bleeding. Evidence compiled using photographs and video readily available on the internet and via news organisations showed that not only were police not attacked by protestors as they sought to give Tomlinson first aid (as had been claimed), but that their phalanx-like lines of officers may have prevented an ambulance from reaching Tomlinson sooner.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission was late in launching an inquiry into the death, claiming there was nothing suspicious about it. Only the release of footage of the incident by the Guardian and Channel 4 News a week later changed their minds. The IPCC submitted its findings four months after Tomlinson’s death. Its initial post mortem stated that he died of a heart attack. A second investigation by the IPCC concluded that he died of internal bleeding.
It took 15 months for the CPS to come to a decision about whether to charge the officer, a member of the Territorial Support Group, with manslaughter. The deadline to charge him with common assault has long passed.
In a statement released this morning, the CPS says it will “not be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Tomlinson’s death was caused by PC ‘A’ pushing him to the ground. That being the case, there is no realistic prospect of a conviction for unlawful act manslaughter. It also follows that there is also no realistic prospect of a conviction for assault occasioning actual bodily harm or misconduct in public office.”
The Guardian’s Paul Lewis, who won praise for his coverage of the incident, said: “Knowing the Ian Tomlinson case inside-out, I am shocked. Manslaughter was a tough call, but no charge at all? Not misconduct?”
The Tomlinson family who were in attendance at today’s decision along with PC ‘A’, claim the investigation was a cover-up. With Keir Starmer calling the events leading to Tomlinson’s death an “alleged assault” [despite clear evidence that Tomlinson was not only hit but pushed hard in the back], no one is surprised that PC ‘A’ was let off. But to not face any form of disciplinary action?
There’s a chant on the streets when demonstrators have a grudge against the police. It goes “no justice, no peace, fuck the police”. Today it is “no justice, no peace, we are the police.”