Police suspended after deportation case death

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SCOTLAND YARD suspended three officers yesterday following the death of Joy Gardner, who collapsed while being served with a deportation order.

Paul Condon, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner appealed for calm and said all police involvement in deportation cases would be stopped until a review had been carried out. North London MPs welcomed the news last night and warned that street violence would only distract the inquiry.

The officers suspended, two men and a woman, were members of a 20-strong specialist deportation unit and went to Mrs Gardner's flat in Hornsey, north London, last Wednesday.

According to Scotland Yard, Mrs Gardner, aged 40, became abusive and violent when police and immigration officers arrived and had to be restrained. With her five-year-old son Graham looking on, she collapsed, stopped breathing and was given mouth- to-mouth resuscitation before being taken to Whittington Hospital where she was put on a life support system. She died on Sunday. The cause of death was given as renal failure.

Mrs Gardner's mother, Myrna Simpson, claims her daughter died from 'police brutality' and demanded an independent inquiry into the case. The incident is being investigated by the Police Complaints Authority supervised by an assistant chief constable.

Mr Condon appealed for calm. 'I can understand the anger on the streets in that part of London but I don't believe that street disorder will do anything for the family as they go through this tragic time.'

Mr Condon said he had asked the Home Office for an independent element in the review. 'I am confident there will be lessons to learn and I am determined we will learn those lessons.'

He expressed 'sadness and profound regret' at Mrs Gardner's death.

Bernie Grant, Labour MP for Tottenham, insisted a full, independent judicial inquiry into deportation and immigration issues as well as the circumstances of Mrs Gardner's death was necessary.

The MP was later heckled and booed as he repeatedly called for calm at a demonstration outside Hornsey police station last night.

Mr Grant said that a 'united, non-violent' approach had already produced results. He said the suspension of the officers and the promise of an inquiry were significant results. 'We have won the first round. I don't want anyone to distract the press or the Home Secretary from this case by behaving badly on the streets.'

He was drowned out by chants of: 'Not enough, not enough.'

Mrs Gardner's family also appealed for calm.