Tomlinson ‘unlawfully killed’, jury finds

By Ian Dunt

Ian Tomlinson was “unlawfully killed” by police during the G20 protests in 2009, a jury has found.

The inquest into the death concluded that the newspaper vendor posed “no threat” and was walking away from police when he was killed.

The jury took just four hours to reach its verdict. The ‘unlawful killing’ verdict requires a higher burden of prooof than other possible judgements, which would have been reached “on the balance of probabilities” rather than “beyond reasonable doubt”.

The director of public prosecutions Kier Starmer will now come under intense pressure to reverse an earlier decision not to charge the officer who pushed Mr Tomlinson with manslaughter.

That officer was PC Simon Harwood, a member of the Metropolitan Police’s Territorial Support Group, which has itself come under scrutiny for its heavy-handed tactics during protests.

“The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, made it clear last year that the decision not to prosecute anyone in relation to the death of Mr Ian Tomlinson would be reviewed in light of the evidence heard at the inquest,” the Crown Prosecution Servie (CPS) said in a statement.

“That review will now take place and will be thorough. It will take into account all of the evidence now available, including any new evidence that emerged at the inquest, the issues left by the Coroner to the jury and the conclusions they reached.

“The review will be conducted as quickly as is compatible with the care and rigour required in a thorough exercise.”

Members of Mr Tomlinson’s family shouted “yes” in court as the judgement was read out.

“We won the case. Love you dad,” his son tweeted.

Mr Tomlinson’s death prompted widespread criticism over the way the Met policed protests in central London and led to major changes in tactics during demonstrations.

Coroners were divided on the exact cause of Mr Tomlinson’s death but the jury found it was caused by the police assault.

Original reports suggested that he had a heart attack but video evidence emerged later showing that he had been walking away from the police when he was hit by a baton and pushed to the floor.

The jury found that “abdominal haemorrhage due to blunt force trauma to the abdomen in association with cirrhosis of the liver” was the cause of death.

The death “was the result of a baton strike from behind and a push by the officer which caused Ian Tomlinson to fall heavily” the jury found.

Both the baton strike and the push were “unreasonable”.

The jury added: “As a result, Mr Tomlinson suffered internal bleeding which led to his collapse within a few minutes and his subsequent death.”

Deputy assistant Met commissioner Rose Fitzpatrick said: “Over the last few weeks we have heard in detail the circumstances surrounding Mr Tomlinson’s death and I wish to express my profound condolences to this family.

“It is a matter of deep regret that the actions of an MPS officer have been found to have caused the death of a member of the public.”