Suffocation verdict of second Gardner post-mortem

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The Independent Online
A second post-mortem examination on Joy Gardner, who died after a struggle with deportation squad police officers, has concluded that her death was a result of suffocation, it was disclosed yesterday, writes Terry Kirby.

Bernie Grant, the Labour MP for Tottenham, is campaigning for a public inquiry into the affair. He said last night that Dr Iain West, a pathologist who conducted the second examination on behalf of the family on Monday, concluded she died 'as a consequence of a form of suffocation'. The first official examination found that Mrs Gardner died from 'hypoxic brain damage' - in effect, lack of oxygen - after the struggle at her home in north London. Her family have claimed this was as a result of a gag being placed across her mouth or a choke hold used by the arresting officers, who they also allege sat on her.

Sources close to the inquiry said last night that all four pathologists present on Monday - Dr West, and those representing the police officers, the inquiry by Essex police and the coroner - agreed that death was due to lack of oxygen after suffocation. Further tests are being conducted to determine the nature of the suffocation.

Last night both the Metropolitan Police Federation and solicitors for the three suspended officers said the officers dissociated themselves from a report in yesterday's London Evening Standard claiming that the three had given their account to the newspaper through an intermediary. A statement said the officers denied they had spoken to the newspaper or authorised anyone to do so.

The Independent learnt last night that investigators have been unable to confirm the officers' claim that Mrs Gardner bit one of them - allegedly the justification for a gag.

According to the Standard account, the officers admit using the body belt and adhesive tape after Mrs Gardner 'went into a frenzy' when they arrived to enforce a deportation order. She removed most of her clothes and smashed crockery, the newspaper reported.