Gardner supporters still seek public inquiry into death: A visit by police and Immigration Service officers ended in tragedy. David Connett reports

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The Independent Online
JOY GARDNER collapsed during a struggle to prevent three officers from Scotland Yard's deportation and extradition squad enforcing a deportation order.

The three, together with an Immigration Service official and two uniformed officers, went to Mrs Gardner's flat in Hornsey, north London on 28 July 1992.

Mrs Gardner, who was born in Jamaica, collapsed after her mouth was gagged and taped and she was bound with a restraining leather belt and handcuffs.

She was taken to hospital but never regained consciousness and died four days later. Her death led to angry protests in north London.

Pathologists' reports for her family and the police came to conflicting conclusions about the exact cause of death.

Prompted by Bernie Grant MP, Paul Condon, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, suspended the three officers and the work of their squad. A inquiry into the circumstances was carried out by James Conlan, Assistant Chief Constable of Essex. His report to the Police Complaints Authority was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service in February after the dispute between the pathologists caused delays.

Yesterday's decision was welcomed by friends and supporters of the Gardner family.

Jane Coker, a solicitor who acts for Mrs Gardner's son, Graeme, aged six, her mother and her daughter Lisa, 22, said: 'We are very pleased this matter is to go before a jury. If these officers hadn't been charged it would have been an absolute travesty of justice. Her family want to see justice done. Her son is still receiving therapy after being terribly traumatised by what he saw.'

Ms Coker was adamant there was still a need for a full public inquiry. 'There needs to be a public inquiry so the role of the police and the Immigration Service can be examined.'

Her view was echoed by Claude Moraes, director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. 'It is a bizarre situation where the immigration officers concerned, who were giving the orders at the time, are working normally while the police face very serious criminal charges.'

He said there was an urgent need for a statutory authority such as the PCA to regulate the Immigration Service. The PCA may submit a report to Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, after legal proceedings end. This would be the fourth time the PCA had submitted a report on matters of a 'grave or exceptional' nature.