An officer caught on camera lungeing a newspaper seller during G20 protests near the Bank of England was last night suspended. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is waiting to interview the man while Scotland Yard defended itself against accusations it deliberately misled the public over the death.
Ian Tomlinson was making his way home from work, trying to negotiate cordons thrown up as thousands of protesters gathered in London, when a helmeted and partially masked officer assaulted him in an apparently unprovoked attack. Minutes later, the 47-year-old collapsed and died of a heart attack.
Initially, the Metropolitan Police spoke of how officers had tried to save his life while being pelted with missiles after he collapsed outside the Royal Exchange Building. The newspaper seller had not had any contact with police, it was said. But a video which emerged days later, as well as witness reports, appeared to prove that officers had repeatedly hit Mr Tomlinson.
Yesterday, as the officers concerned waited to be interviewed as part of a criminal investigation by the IPCC, a Met spokesman said there was no "deliberate intent to mislead" and Scotland Yard had been unaware of the earlier contact between Mr Tomlinson and the officers. "It is now clear that Mr Tomlinson did come into contact with police prior to his death and that a number of the officers depicted in the footage ... have identified themselves as Metropolitan Police Service officers," the spokesman said. "There has been no denial from the Metropolitan Police Service that this was the case ... This is information that could only have been known as the investigation progressed."
Last night the head of the Independent Police Complaints (IPCC)defended his organisation against criticisms over its handling of theinvestigation. Chairman Nick Hardwick said the IPCC made "proper decisions" based on the available evidence and was now in the "best possible position" tobring a successful prosecution against any police officers that might face charges.He added: "We will be independent, we will be fast and we will be effective."
Labour MP David Winnick, a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, has called for questions to be asked about the initial police statements: "It does seem that the original police statement was, to say the least, misleading in view of what has emerged."