Third Ian Tomlinson post-mortem 'withheld from coroner'

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The Independent Online

The results of a third post-mortem examination into the death of Ian Tomlinson are being withheld from the coroner, it was reported today.



The examination was carried out on behalf of the police officer who pushed Mr Tomlinson shortly before he collapsed in the street and died at the G20 protests in central London.



The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Independent Police Complaints Commission and the coroner have not seen the report because it is being withheld by the officer's lawyers, citing legal privilege.



The CPS said it had not been handed a copy of the report by Ben Swift as it was commissioned by the officer's legal team, so they were "not entitled to see it".



But City of London coroner Paul Matthews is understood to be seeking a copy.



Yesterday he defended his decision to use controversial pathologist Freddy Patel in the first post-mortem examination.



In a statement at a pre-inquest review hearing, Mr Matthews said he was unaware of any disciplinary proceedings against the doctor when he instructed him to carry out a "routine" examination.



Last week, the pathologist - described by the family of Mr Tomlinson as an "obstacle to the truth" - was suspended by the General Medical Council after findings of misconduct or deficient professional performance relating to three earlier post-mortems.



The 63-year-old is suspended from the Home Office register of forensic pathologists after questions were asked about the examination carried out on the body of Mr Tomlinson.



The newspaper seller died last April after getting caught up in the G20 demonstrations. He collapsed in the street and died several minutes after being pushed from behind by a police officer and falling heavily.



His body was taken to St Pancras mortuary, where the post-mortem was carried out.



Dr Patel concluded Mr Tomlinson died of natural causes but his competency was called into question when two other pathologists agreed that the 47-year-old, who was an alcoholic, died as a result of internal bleeding, probably from his diseased liver, after falling on his elbow.



Defending his decision to use Dr Patel on the afternoon of April 2, 2009, Mr Matthews said the pathologist "regularly attended" the St Pancras mortuary.



"He was a fully registered medical practitioner and was also on the Home Office list of accredited forensic pathologists.



"So I instructed Dr Patel to carry out the routine post-mortem on Ian Tomlinson's body, and it was fixed for that afternoon."



He added in a statement that he was not aware of any proceedings against Dr Patel until the following month when GMC solicitors wrote to him.



The coroner was also in the dark over the circumstances surrounding the death when Tomlinson's body was first brought in.



"At that stage there was no material to suggest that he had been in contact with police officers before his death," he said.



As a result, Mr Matthews initially declined a request that an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigator be present at the examination.



But after evidence emerged that the death may have been "violent or unnatural", he decided to open an inquest before the second post-mortem examination.

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