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Archive for July 22nd, 2010

I accept, given that I appear to be on holiday at a cafe in  Battersea Square – I work from 4.00 am – 12.30 and then escape – that I may have misread somewhere today that some Americans think that Piers Morgan was visiting the States this week.  I can’t imagine they could have confused Morgan for David Cameron?  Surely?  A little bit of artistic licence above… but how much given the events of the week and Cameron’s ‘pronouncements’ ?

Anyway… at least the Cameron visit to get instructions from our cousins went well!

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Law Review: Ian Tomlinson Decision

LATEST UPDATE….

G20 riots: policeman who stuck Ian Tomlinson faced two previous aggression inquiries

Telegraph: PC Simon Harwood, the police officer who struck Ian Tomlinson minutes before he died, was previously investigated twice over his alleged aggressive behaviour.

Ian Tomlinson death: police officer will not face criminal charges

Guardian: G20 riot officer filmed striking down newspaper seller will not face charges because of postmortem conflicts, CPS rules

The police officer caught on video during last year’s G20 protests striking a man who later died will not face criminal charges, the Crown Prosecution Service announced today. Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, said there was “no realistic prospect” of a conviction, because of a conflict between the postmortem examinations carried out after the death of Ian Tomlinson last year.

CPS decision

In a detailed letter setting out its reasons, the CPS said that the actions of the officer – seen striking Tomlinson with a baton then shoving him to the ground in the footage – amounted to assault.

It said: “The CPS concluded that there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of proving that the actions of PC ‘A’ in striking Mr Tomlinson with his baton and then pushing him over constituted an assault. At the time of those acts Mr Tomlinson did not pose a threat … There is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of proving that his actions were disproportionate and unjustified.”

But the CPS went on to explain the obstacles to a prosecution posed by the subsequent postmortems.

The first police account, that he died from a heart attack, was confirmed by a pathologist, Freddy Patel, in the initial postmortem examination.

But a second postmortem examination, conducted on behalf of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), found Tomlinson died from internal bleeding.

Today the CPS said it could not bring a manslaughter charge because the conflicting medical evidence meant prosecutors “would simply not be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that there was a causal link between Mr Tomlinson’s death and the alleged assault on him”.

It said it could not bring a charge for criminal assault because too much time had elapsed: a charge must be brought within six months. The CPS also ruled out bringing charges of actual bodily harm, and misconduct in public office.

The death of Ian Tomlinson – decision on prosecution

CPS STATEMENT IN FULL

Statement by Diane Abbott MP: Questions raised over CPS handling of case following lengthy investigation.

“Five years to the day after the death of Jean Charles de Menezes at the hands of our police, it appears that lessons have not been learnt. The outcome of this investigation gives rise to grave concern.  And the conduct of the CPS, particularly their delay in taking up the case in the first place, has been unsatisfactory

“I am at a loss to understand why the investigation took sixteen months to reach a conclusion as I believe that if the roles had been reversed, and a civilian assault led to a police officers death in this way, the investigation might have been somewhat quicker and reached a very different conclusion.  It would be inappropriate to level accusations of misconduct at the CPS at this time but I think an inquiry into the investigation, as well as the incident as a whole, is highly necessary.

“Without a doubt this verdict benefits absolutely nobody, particularly the CPS and the officer in question. I now find it very difficult to see how a breakdown in the relationship between the public and our police forces will be avoided”.

It is quite remarkable that the actions of police officers at the G20 sixteen months time ago should result (a) in an acquittal in the case of Sgt Smellie and (b) a decision that there is insufficiently clear medical evidence to bring a prosecution.

I can understand the rationale behind CPS prosecutions that it must be in the public interest and there must be sufficient clarity of evidence to warrant bringing a prosecution.  The IPCC concluded their initial investigation in just four months, albeit after initially claiming there was nothing suspicious about the death for almost a week until the release of footage of the incident obtained by the Guardian forced a U-turn. and passed the file to the CPS.  It is most unfortunate that delays precluded the bringing of, as a minimum, assault charges.

Part of the problem – there is no clear explanation as to the need for almost a year to elapse for the CPS to make a decision, save for having to return to the IPCC several times for clarification – is the conflict between the medical experts.  The initial postmortem was carried out by Dr Freddy Patel

The Coroner for the District appointed a pathologist, Dr Patel, to carry out a post mortem. He did so on 3 April 2009. No other medical expert was present. Because Mr Tomlinson had walked some distance from the incident in Royal Exchange before collapsing in Threadneedle Street, the two events were not immediately linked and, when he carried out his post mortem, Dr Patel was not aware of the incident involving PC ‘A’. He concluded that Mr Tomlinson’s death was “consistent with natural causes” and he gave the cause of death as “coronary artery disease“.

The family and the IPCC sought a second post mortem and this was undertaken by a second pathologist, Dr Cary, on 9 April 2009. He concluded that whilst Mr Tomlinson had a partial blockage of the artery, his death was the result of abdominal haemorrhage from blunt force trauma to the abdomen, in association with alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver. It was Dr Cary’s view that when Mr Tomlinson fell, his elbow had impacted in the area of his liver causing an internal bleed which had led to his death a few minutes later.

On 22 April 2009 the Metropolitan Police Directorate of Professional Standards instructed another pathologist, Dr Shorrock, to perform a third post mortem. Dr Shorrock agreed with Dr Cary’s conclusion.

Other expert evidence was obtained from Dr Wilson, Professor Williamson, Dr Alexander and Dr Sheppard. Their evidence related to accident and emergency procedures, issues relating to the liver and microscopic changes to tissue.

Channel 4 Notes…

G20 Tomlinson pathologist accused of misconduct

The pathologist who ruled Ian Tomlinson died of a heart attack at the G20 protests is accused of misconduct in four other post mortems. Channel 4 News Home Affairs Correspondent Simon Israel was at the General Medical Council hearing.

Dr Freddy Patel appeared before the General Medical Council on Monday accused of misconduct over his failings in a total of four autopsies performed between September 2002 and August 2004.

We seem to have a credibility problem – credibility in terms of respect for the police and the fact that justice appears to have been ‘thwarted’ by events beyond the control of the CPS in terms of the quality of medical testimony.

The second post mortem indicates: ” He concluded that whilst Mr Tomlinson had a partial blockage of the artery, his death was the result of abdominal haemorrhage from blunt force trauma to the abdomen, in association with alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver. It was Dr Cary’s view that when Mr Tomlinson fell, his elbow had impacted in the area of his liver causing an internal bleed which had led to his death a few minutes later.”

Had Ian Tomlinson not been pushed over from behind by a police officer, it is unlikely he would have fallen over, it is unlikely that he would, therefore had died shortly after. A police officer escapes justice because of highly technical issues of causation and the way assault laws are framed.  As others have observed on Twitter – what if Ian Tomlinson or you, or me, had pushed a police officer over from behind and he died?  Would we have escaped justice?  Pretty shoddy stuff?  Did the CPS do their job here?  Why was Dr Patel involved in the post-mortem if there were issues about his competence generally – issues about his competence arising before the tragic death of Ian Tomlinson?

The BBC reports

Jenny Jones, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said: “It’s clearly an outcome that satisfies absolutely nobody and everybody comes out of it badly.

“The reputation of the police is poor, and morale won’t be very good if public perception is that the police constantly get away with crimes and are never brought to justice.

“If everybody had moved a bit faster we might have actually been in the time-frame for an assault charge to be brought,” she added.

Expressing “regret” for Mr Tomlinson’s family, a Metropolitan Police spokesman, said: “There will, of course, be an inquest where the facts will be heard publicly. This is important for the family of Ian Tomlinson as well as Met officers and Londoners.

“We now await the IPCC’s investigation report before being able to carefully consider appropriate misconduct proceedings,” he said.

Deborah Glass, from the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said the circumstances of Mr Tomlinson’s death will now be “rightly scrutinised” at an inquest.

She said: “We will provide a report on the officer’s conduct to the Metropolitan Police within the next few days.

“The Met will need to provide us with its proposals regarding misconduct.”

ObiterJ writes…….

Death of Mr Ian Tomlinson – no charges to be brought

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