Policeman gives evidence in G20 death inquest

Relatives of the newspaper-seller who died after he was pushed to the ground during the G20 protests walked out of his inquest yesterday after the police officer responsible for the shove said he wanted to provide answers to "help the family".

Speaking publicly for the first time about the death of Ian Tomlinson on 1 April 2009, PC Simon Harwood said he had been in fear of his life when a hostile crowd turned on him earlier in the day, as he tried to make an arrest during the demonstrations in central London targeting financial institutions.

The 43-year-old police officer, who was told last year that he will not face prosecution for the death of Mr Tomlinson, but is awaiting disciplinary proceedings which could lead to his dismissal, was warned at the start of his evidence to the inquest that he did not have to answer any questions which might lead to him incriminating himself.

But PC Harwood, who has been suspended from duty with the Metropolitan Police since the incident, replied: "I'm very aware of that. I'm here as a witness to help with the inquest and also to give some sort of answers to help the family. So I'm here to answer questions, just to help."

At this point several members of Mr Tomlinson's family, including his stepson Paul King, walked out of the hearing at International Dispute Resolution Centre in Fleet Street. They later returned to the proceedings.

The newspaper-seller collapsed shortly after he was pushed to ground while walking away from a group of riot officers on the fringes of the demonstrations in the City. The case achieved notoriety when amateur video footage emerged which challenged the original version of events and showed an officer, later identified as PC Harwood, striking Mr Tomlinson with a baton before placing two hands on his back and pushing him to the floor.

The inquest heard that the constable had rejoined the Metropolitan Police in November 2004 and become a member of the Territorial Support Group (TSG), based in Catford, south-east London. The TSG is the rapid response force used by Scotland Yard to respond to or control public order incidents.

PC Harwood, dressed in a grey suit and yellow tie, said that during his four and a half years with the TSG he had attended a large number of demonstrations, and on the day of the G20 demonstrations he had been assigned to drive a police van carrying colleagues, a job which he accepted would not normally require him to leave his vehicle.

But he said he had become the centre of attention for a hostile crowd when he moved in to arrest a man writing on another carrier, leading the suspect away towards a line of police horses. The officer said: "At the time he was becoming more aggressive, more hostile, I was starting to believe that this was getting out of control. I was aware there was a crowd and I was actually in fear for my life then from what was coming towards me."

PC Harwood, who was filmed without his police numbers attached to his uniform when he pushed Mr Tomlinson, said he had made sure they were on display when he went on duty. Asked about expectations prior to the demonstration, he added: "There was a general feeling that it would be robust policing, not just going and picking on people, but robust as in keeping the demonstration where it should be."

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam