Starmer: 'Sufficient evidence' for prosecution

Kier Starmer, director of public prosecutions, comments on the Tomlinson case:

"On 3 May this year I announced that the decision not to prosecute anyone in relation to the death of Mr Ian Tomlinson would be reviewed in light of the verdict of unlawful killing returned by the jury at the inquest into Mr Tomlinson's death. That review is now complete and I have this morning met Mr Tomlinson's family to tell them the outcome.

"The difficulty facing any prosecution in relation to the death of Mr Tomlinson lies in the conflicting medical evidence about the cause of death. That difficulty remains. A criminal trial is different to an inquest and it is my duty to ensure that a prosecution is only brought where there is evidence available to the prosecution that provides a realistic prospect of a jury being able to satisfy themselves beyond reasonable doubt that an offence has been committed. For that reason, very careful consideration is required where there is conflicting medical evidence.

"However, matters have moved on in two ways since the original decision was taken in this case. First, new medical evidence was presented at the inquest. Second, the various accounts and opinions given by the medical experts, including Dr Patel, were tested in extensive questioning at the inquest; this has changed the basis upon which the case falls to be considered. But for the inquest, the significant conflicts in the evidence that had previously existed could not have been addressed; and the inquest process, which is less confined than a criminal trial, has allowed a degree of clarity to emerge.

"We have considered the new evidence adduced at the inquest and the final positions adopted by the medical experts very carefully indeed. We have also taken the advice of leading counsel, Mr Tim Owen QC, on the critical medical issues that remain.

"Having done so, we are satisfied that the position in relation to the medical evidence about the cause of death has clearly changed. The difficulties that would now confront any prosecution have changed in nature and scale from last year when a decision was taken not to prosecute, although it is clear that real difficulties remain.

"Taking the evidence as it now stands, we have concluded that, even with those remaining difficulties, there is now sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of successfully prosecuting PC Simon Harwood for the manslaughter of Mr Tomlinson. That being the case, it is clearly in the public interest that criminal proceedings be brought.

"Accordingly, a summons charging PC Harwood with the manslaughter of Mr Tomlinson has been obtained from the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court. He will appear before that court on 20 June 2011.

"Can I remind all concerned that PC Harwood now faces a charge of manslaughter, and proceedings are now active. He has the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that nothing should be reported which could prejudice his trial."


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.