Joy Gardner case police will not be disciplined

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The Independent Online
The three police officers cleared of the manslaughter of Joy Gardner, the illegal immigrant who died resisting deportation in July 1993, will not face any internal disciplinary action, it was announced by the Police Complaints Authority yesterday.

The move was immediately condemned as giving police "a licence to kill" and described as the second major blow to the black community in a week. Earlier Sir Paul Condon, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, sparked a major political row after linking race and mugging.

Yesterday, Bernie Grant, the Labour MP, called for a boycott of the meeting between Sir Paul and community leaders to discuss street crime planned for 28 July - the anniversary of Mrs Gardner's death.

He said: "Relations between the police and the black community are at their lowest point for many years following Paul Condon's remarks last week, and there is a deep sense of anger and injustice around."

He said the decision not to discipline the acquitted officers was not surprising. "The system by which the police investigate themselves has never been trusted by the black community." Joy Gardner died after a violent struggle with officers of Scotland Yard's alien deportation unit, who had arrived at her home in north London and wound 13 feet of tape around her head. Detective Sergeant Linda Evans, 41, and her colleague, Constable Colin Whitby, 48, were both cleared by an Old Bailey jury last month of the manslaughter. A third officer, PC John Burrell, 42, was acquitted on the direction of the trial judge, Mr Justice Mantell.

The decision not to discipline coincided with the publication of the latest Home Office circular governing treatment of illegal immigrants, and confirming the ban on the use of gags - imposed after Mrs Gardner's death. However, it provides for the use of body belts and leg restraints in strictly controlled conditions and following a medical examination.

Yesterday, the PCA defended its decision not to discipline the three. A statement said the authority had been advised disciplinary action would contravened guidelines on "double jeopardy" laid down in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which stated that a police officer could not be charged with a disciplinary offence which was the same as the offence of which he or she had been acquitted.

Peter Moorhouse, PCA deputy chairman, said; " I hope that the public at large and the community specifically will feel that an absolutely exhaustive investigation has been completed."

Laurie Johnston, vice-chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: "They went through a trial and were found not guilty of manslaughter. We don't believe there was anything they should be facing on the discipline side."