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Above the Law

There are two groups in Britain who are above the law – the bankers and the police.   Members of both groups have, in very different ways, done immense damage to the economic and social fabric of this country in recent years, and not one has been held to account.   Leading bankers in all the main banks have acted with almost unbelievable folly and recklessness which has now cost taxpayers over $650bn, a sum that will rise by 2014 to £1.4 trillion (equal to Britain’s whole GDP), yet not one banker has been prosecuted, imprisoned, demoted, sacked or permanently (or even temporarily) barred from any involvement in the financial sector they virtually destroyed.   Now the Tomlinson affair shows that the police are equally immune from public accountability, and can even kill citizens with impunity.   For this is not an isolated episode, but comes on top of a long list of similar incidents.

There was the killing by police of Jean-Charles de Menezes on the wrong assumption, without proper checks, that he was a terrorist.   There was the killing by police of Harry Stanley who was walking home with a chair leg which was assumed, without confirmation, to be a gun.   There was the killing by a police Tactical Support Unit of Blair Peach at a demonstration when he was unarmed and posed no threat.   There have been repeated deaths in custody where prosecutions for manslaughter are rare – Mikey Powell in the West Midlands in 2003, Christopher Alder in a Hull police station in 2002, James Ashley shot dead by police at his home in Sussex in 1998, Richard O’Brien dying while being restrained by police in London in 1994, and David Edwin killed by police in London in 1995 – and many, many others.

And now Ian Tomlinson dying in the G20 demonstration after being bitten by a police dog, hit with a baton and then pushed so violently in the back by PC Simon Harwood that he fell heavily to the floor.   Almost all of these cases where police have been involved in a violent death have been dismissed because of technicalities, flawed evidence, or huge delays (often 3-4 years) leading to loss of vital material.   In the case of Tomlinson the failures of due process are execrable:

  • The pathologist who conducted the first crucial post-mortem with no other medical expert present, Dr. Mohammed Saeed Sulema Patel, and who concluded that Tomlinson died of natural causes, had repeatedly had his professional conduct questioned in at least 4 other cases, and has been summoned before a GMC disciplinary hearing over these cases.   Why then was he chosen by the City of London coroner?   Did the police recommend him?
  • Patel failed to examine or retain 3 litres of fluid found inside Tomlinson’s body.   Yet this was vital evidence because if it was mainly blood, it would have indicated that the cause of death was bleeding as a result of an internal rupture.
  • The second autopsy, commissioned by the IPCC, found that death was more likely to be caused by abdominal bleeding as a result of blunt force trauma, consistent with a fall or assault.   The third autopsy, conducted on behalf of the police officer himself, agreed with the findings of the second post-mortem.   So why were these two autopsy findings not given decisive weight when Patel’s original post-mortem examination, carried out alone and without independent check, was so obviously blatantly flawed?


  1. Robert says:

    Come on did you really think the out come would have been different.

    Police are now protected by government…..government has the protection of the police, remeber the miners strike.

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