Thursday 9 April 2009

IPCC and police accused by Guardian

In a report today, in the Guardian accuses the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the Metropolitan police of attempting to manipulate the story of Ian Tomlinson's death at the G20 protests and to 'manage' Mr Tomlinson's family. The following is particularly interesting:

On Sunday, the pictures obtained by the Guardian showing Mr Tomlinson on the ground in front of police were published.

Around 10.30 am the Tomlinson family attended the scene of the death, where they spoke to the Guardian about allegations he had been assaulted by police. They said they were glad the pictures had come out and wanted more answers. They were concerned about allegations that Tomlinson had been assaulted. They gave the Guardian their names, telephone numbers and address and then attended a church memorial service.

It was then, during the service, that the family's police liaison officer told the Guardian he was extremely unhappy the paper had spoken to them. He told the Guardian's reporter not to contact the family "for 48 hours".

Meanwhile official guidance from the IPCC to another Guardian journalist accused the paper of doorstepping the family at a time of grief. The IPCC guided that the family had been deeply distressed by the newspaper's approach. On the same day the IPCC told journalists from rival publications there was "nothing in the story" that Mr Tomlinson had been assaulted by an officer.
So, to summarise: inappropriate behaviour by the police's family liaison officer, along with interference and manipulative briefings by the IPCC. Thank goodness the family now have their own legal advice.

Most of this background information never gets reported, but it helps to show why justice following a death involving the police is so rare.

Elsewhere in the same newspaper are comments by eye-witness Alan Edwards, who helped Mr Tomlinson aftter he was assaulted. He mentions the following contact with the IPCC:
Edwards will make a full statement to the Independent Police Complaints Commission today. But he has already given a preliminary description to the police watchdog of what happened. "When I spoke to the lady at the IPCC she asked what happened when [Tomlinson] fell over. I said: 'He didn't fall, he was pushed.'"
Quite. No prior assumptions by the IPCC's investigators then...

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