G20 officer says sorry to family of Ian Tomlinson

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The Independent Online

The police officer who pushed over Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests in 2009 apologised in court to the newspaper seller's family yesterday for "any way" that he might have caused his death. Giving evidence at the inquest into the 47-year-old's death, PC Simon Harwood said: "If it is the case that in any way I have caused Mr Tomlinson's death, I am very sorry."

The officer said he had pushed Mr Tomlinson, who had approached police lines but was not a protester, to encourage him to move away and was amazed when he fell to the ground. He was helped to his feet but collapsed about 100 yards further on and died.

PC Harwood said Mr Tomlinson had already been pushed away by another officer and had been bitten by a police dog. He denied using unreasonable, unnecessary or excessive force.

He said: "I moved forward to engage Mr Tomlinson. I then struck Mr Tomlinson around the upper part of his left leg towards his thigh with my baton. I did not get any immediate reaction from Mr Tomlinson... I then, as a reaction, pushed him in the top part of his right shoulder," the officer told Matthew Ryder QC, who was representing the dead man's family.

In a statement PC Harwood gave on 16 April 2009, he claimed that, shortly before encountering Mr Tomlinson, he had been involved in confrontations with protesters in which he fell to the ground, lost a baton, suffered a blow to the head and was struck by an object thrown at him. Yesterday he accepted the account was mistaken and that he had "got things wrong". He insisted, though, that he believed it when he made the statement.

Mr Ryder accused him of being "willing to be evasive and to lie", which the officer denied. He also denied having "deliberately painted a false picture of Mr Tomlinson" and of telling "half-truths". The inquest, held at the International Dispute Resolution Centre in London, continues.