London policeman charged over G20 protest death

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tomlinson after being pushed over, shortly before his death
Image: Anonymous.

An officer with London's Metropolitan Police has been charged with causing the death of a man caught up in the G20 protests in 2009. PC Simon Harwood is accused of the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson, who died after Harwood hit him with a baton before pushing him to the ground.

Homeless paper-seller Tomlinson was pushed from behind outside the Bank of England as he walked back from work. He died within minutes. The death was filmed and attracted international media attention.

Last year, Keir Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales, announced that no charges would be brought due to conflicting medical evidence. That decision was placed under review after an inquest jury ruled last month that Tomlinson had been unlawfully killed.

Starmer met with the Tomlinson family today, informing them of his changed decision before the Crown Prosecution Service released a statement by him. In it, he explained that the inquest evidence had changed his position.

He named two areas in which the inquest has had an impact: One is extra medical evidence and the other is questioning in court to assess conflicting medical evidence from different sources. "But for the inquest, the significant conflicts in the evidence that had previously existed could not have been addressed; and the inquest process, which is less confined than a criminal trial, has allowed a degree of clarity to emerge," said Starmer.

He adds that "the position in relation to the medical evidence about the cause of death has clearly changed," although he cautioned that the prosecution will remain difficult owing to conflicting medical evidence. Starmer continued, saying that "it is clearly in the public interest that criminal proceedings be brought. Accordingly, a summons charging PC Harwood with the manslaughter of Mr Tomlinson has been obtained .... He will appear before [City of Westminster Magistrates' Court] on 20 June 2011."