Why there is no justice for Ian Tomlinson

Rough draft, please comment on any mistakes:

At the height of the Police’s “beat them till they leave” strategy to protest, an inevitable tragedy occurred. Ian Tomlinson, a man merely walking past the protest, was hit from behind so hard he fell instantly to the ground. Helped up by a member of the public, Ian walked a further 100 metres or so before collapsing to ground a second time, where he died.

The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) claimed that the charge of Manslaughter cannot be made as there is no way of proving a “causal link” between the assault[1] and the death. This is due to the conflicting post-mortem reports, one citing a heart attack as the cause of death, the other Internal bleeding caused by the baton strike. With such a conflict, there is no way to circumvent the inevitability of “reasonable doubt”. Therefore, no charges should be pressed.

The CPS made a compelling case for the public to resign themselves to the impunity of the police force and provided the blueprint for further miscarriages of justice to perpetuate. The formula is simple: whenever you commit a crime, engage in a blatant cover-up. Then, if/when the truth is revealed, the primacy of the disinformation reduces it to a mere “conflicting narrative”. If public fury is ignited, launch public inquiry or report which defers proceedings long enough to ensure no justice or recompense can emerge.

In the climate of the ever- growing list of police pardons we are asking why it is that crimes committed when in uniform are not crimes? We heard that Britain does not view its infantry as humans when in battle, so maybe Britain’s twisted logic says that law enforcers when practicing the law are not bound to be law abiding? The police seem to have been given the mandate Nixon demanded: when they do something it is no longer illegal.  The actions of the police at the Gaza Demonstrations or at the G20 exhibit that the police genuinely feel empowered to commit brutal offences knowing the people have no clear route to justice afforded to them.

The problem with prosecuting “Officer A”, the assailant responsible for the death of Ian Tomlinson, is establishing what his actual crime was. The basic action was echoed throughout 2009 in protests and is common-place treatment of ethnic minorities in this country. Protestors from all around the country can attest that the police were militant in their approach to democracy; swinging batons at their own will with very little accountability (removing the lapels carrying their officer numbers, or merely covering them up). The actual act itself, hitting a harmless civilian was done en masse in the early part of 2009. In this context, it is safe to say officer A’s intention was clearly not to kill Ian, his act was dangerous yet the probability of death amounting from a strike of that nature is minimal (as the scores of other people who received similar blows without such tragic consequences supports). It is wrong for us to think Ian Tomlinson’s legacy and his family deserve justice simply in virtue of death. Even if Ian were still alive, he would still deserve justice for a dangerous assault with a potentially deadly weapon.

Since Ian’s death, the atmospheric difference at protest has been palpable. There has been a de-escalation from the police and their attitude of impunity seems to have been diluted. I take this as an implicit acknowledgment that they knew they were breaking the law and could not continue to do so without mass public outrage. We are now in a period of hiatus induced by the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson. Yet, the framework that allowed the police to act in such unaccountable ways remains as strong as ever. The courts  have not safeguarded the public from further deadly assaults by the police as there is no disincentive for the police to act as they wish.

Until we feel safe practising our basic rights (which demands that the police are never above the law and will be punished for transgressing legal boundaries) tensions between the people and the police will only greaten.

[1] A charge, they admit, “officer A” is open to in theory, though such a charge has to be made within 6 months, which has obviously elapsed.


One comment

  1. Peter Reynolds


    This is a monstrous decision. How can anyone, ever again have any faith in our system of justice? There can be no question but that Keir Starmer must go. He has failed miserably to see beyond the minutiae and detail to the bigger and more important picture. He has failed all of us, each and every individual citizen of this country. Whatever it takes, be it a special Act of Parliament, he must be removed from office and PC Simon Harwood, thug, brute and murderer of Ian Tomlinson must be brought to justice.


    From today everything changes


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