IPCC: No cover-up by G20 police

Click to follow

The police watchdog found no evidence of any attempt by the police to cover up Ian Tomlinson's death at the G20 protests, a report revealed today.

The Independent Police Complains Commission (IPCC) launched an inquiry amid complaints of "seriously misleading" information from the Metropolitan Police on the evening of his death on April 1, 2009.

The watchdog reviewed all press office contact, including prepared lines for the media, by the Met and the City of London Police with the media between April 1 and April 7.

The key evidence included claims that the police must have known what was later confirmed by witnesses, photographic and video evidence and the misinformation that Mr Tomlinson died from a heart attack.

IPCC commissioner Deborah Glass acknowledged that the media played a crucial role in obtaining vital evidence surrounding the circumstances leading up to Mr Tomlinson's death.

But, in a report published today, she added: "While it does not make the circumstances of Mr Tomlinson's death any less disturbing, our investigation found no evidence that any press officer, or any police officer responsible for agreeing media lines, set out to mislead anyone.

"Nor have we seen any evidence that the police attempted to cover up the circumstances of Mr Tomlinson's death."

In one of three reports published by the IPCC, the watchdog found no evidence of misconduct by any police officers who came into contact with Mr Tomlinson on at least three occasions as he tried to pass through cordons on his way home.

It was also concluded that the police plan to disperse demonstrators from the pedestrian area of Royal Exchange Buildings was "proportionate and necessary".

Investigators noted that it was a "matter of concern" that only one officer who did see Pc Simon Harwood push 47-year-old newspaper seller Mr Tomlinson expressed concern and made a written note of it.

But the report went on: "However, it is not surprising, in the context of a major policing operation in which thousands of officers were deployed and many were using force, that Pc Harwood's push, no matter how forceful, was not the subject of reporting."

It added that there was no evidence of misconduct by police dog handlers in Royal Exchange Buildings during the incident which led to an inquest jury returning a verdict of unlawful killing on Mr Tomlinson's death.

The actions of Pc Harwood were the subject of a damning assessment by the jury who said he "deliberately and intentionally" shoved Mr Tomlinson to the ground.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, is to examine whether the officer should now be charged with manslaughter over Mr Tomlinson's death.

Ms Glass said: "The process by which police officers are held to account for their actions has come under much scrutiny in this case.

"The system whereby the IPCC investigates, the CPS makes decisions on prosecution, the police propose misconduct, the IPCC agrees or directs, a misconduct tribunal decides the outcome and, separately, a coroner hears the evidence with a jury but does not apportion blame - is complicated and confusing.

"I know that the CPS is now reviewing its decision not to prosecute.

"Whatever they decide following that review should not prevent the misconduct proceedings now being heard and I urge the Metropolitan Police to hold the hearing as soon as possible.

"I hope that by publishing our investigation report, and by directing the Metropolitan Police Service to hold the misconduct hearing in public, we can shed some light on the system within which we work."

Today's reports do not examine a new allegation that senior investigators were told 48 hours after Mr Tomlinson's death that officers had seen a colleague push him at the protests but that the information was not passed to the family, coroner or the IPCC.

Three constables reportedly saw Mr Tomlinson being struck with a baton and pushed to the ground four days before video footage emerged, The Guardian newspaper reported.

The IPCC will now examine why information from the Metropolitan Police officers was not handed to its investigators. It is understood the focus of the IPCC inquiry will be the actions of the investigating force at the time, the City of London Police.

In a statement the Met said the action they took in informing the City of London Police about potential witness evidence was "prompt and proper".

An IPCC spokesman said: "We are aware of a further allegation, arising from evidence disclosed for the inquest, that on 3 April 2009 some officers were aware of physical contact between police and Ian Tomlinson but that this information was not passed on to the family, Coroner or IPCC.

"We understand this will be the subject of a formal complaint from the Tomlinson family imminently. This will be investigated and reported on separately."

A Met spokesman said: "The MPS took prompt and proper action to inform the investigating force, in this case City of London, of potential witness evidence. On 3 April 2009, a Pc came forward with information concerning Mr Tomlinson. The officer's supervisor that day escalated the information to the MPS directorate of professional standards who immediately passed the information to City of London Police investigators.

"Two other officers who were with the Pc were contacted and they also made statements.

"The MPS is not aware or been made aware of any breach of a statutory obligation regarding informing the IPCC. The procedure of informing the investigators of new evidence is right and proper."

A City of London police spokesman said: "Any complaint made against a City of London Police officer will be recorded and directly passed to the IPCC.

"The City of London Police will fully co-operate with and support any subsequent IPCC investigation."

The IPCC upheld a complaint from Mr Tomlinson's family that misinformation was supplied by police to the pathologists involved in the post-mortem examination on him on April 22, 2009.

The watchdog concluded that the acting Detective Inspector briefed a pathologist that Mr Tomlinson fell in front of a police van, which turned out to be inaccurate.

The IPCC said the officer gave the information "based on what he believed to be the case at the time" but that he should have made sure the information was factual rather than his interpretation of the facts.

Ms Glass said: "Although there was no evidence that the officer intended to mislead the pathologist, we found that this officer was reckless in his briefing.

"We also considered whether this had any adverse effect on the pathologist's findings.

"Following our investigation, the pathologist was invited to reconsider his position in light of the inaccuracy.

"He confirmed that it did not affect his findings."

The Metropolitan Police said it welcomed the overall findings of the investigations which they said had been conducted in a "thorough and fair process".

It said in a statement: "The Met welcomes the IPCC findings which include that there was no evidence concerning complaints that officers failed to protect Mr Tomlinson from assault and subsequently no case to answer in relation to misconduct.

"In addition, complaints about the conduct of MPS officers around Royal Exchange Buildings and alleged failures in first aid were not upheld and the report rightly acknowledges that broader lessons following G20 have been addressed by the MPS.

"The IPCC has also found today that there was no evidence any MPS police or press officer attempted to mislead.

"Since the incident there have been claims that the MPS denied there was prior police contact with Mr Tomlinson. The report finds there is no evidence of this.

"The report concerning information supplied to the pathologists by an MPS officer found that although incorrect information was given this was an honestly held belief and there was no evidence of intent to mislead and no lasting damage to the investigation.

"These are important findings for the MPS. These investigations have dealt with a series of complaints in a thorough and fair process, which we have fully supported."

Mr Tomlinson's family said they have notified the IPCC about their complaints over the claims that police witness accounts of the push were not passed to them, the coroner or the police watchdog.

His widow, Julia Tomlinson, said today she felt misled by the City of London Police after being told initially on April 4, 2009 that he died from a heart attack and had no further injuries that would have contributed to his death.

She said: "I cried after the statement was read to me. Now I feel that I was misled.

"The day after the City of London Police investigators received information from the Met that police witnesses had seen Ian struck by a police officer, a City officer read this statement to me.

"It made me believe that the protesters were somehow responsible for Ian's death. This is wrong and I do feel angry that I was misled like this."

Mr Tomlinson's stepson Paul King said: "From the statement that was read to my mum by the City of London Police officer, it looks like the investigation into Ian's death was all over on April 4 despite the evidence from the Met police officers who saw the push.

"If that video footage hadn't come out then the truth might never have come out. Even Deborah Glass says this in her statement today."

Jules Carey, of Tuckers Solicitors, said: "In cases where the State is investigating whether its officers may have killed a person, the police are required to carry out a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation to high standards.

"Today's IPCC report suggests that the Detective Inspector from the MPS fell short of the required standard.

"Mr Tomlinson's family has now asked the IPCC to investigate if the same is true of the lead investigators from City of London Police."