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Tuesday, 06 August 2013 00:00

No justice for Tomlinson

Julia Tomlinson's rueful acceptance that a damages payout and apology from the Metropolitan Police is "as close as we are going to get to justice" for her unlawfully killed husband Ian is a sad reflection of police impunity.

That Simon Harwood, the police officer whose actions caused Tomlinson's death, could walk free from a manslaughter charge is as unimaginable to his widow as it is to most people.

That Harwood, who had dodged internal disciplinary proceedings in 2001 over alleged unlawful arrest, abuse of authority and discreditable conduct charges by taking medical retirement, could then be readmitted into the Met is equally unimaginable.

But what takes the biscuit is the concerted cover-up and hypocritical verbiage by the police from the moment of Tomlinson's death four years ago until his widow's frustrated recognition that real justice would be denied her family for ever.

When Harwood whacked Tomlinson with his club and then knocked him to the ground, he did so in full view of dozens of fellow officers.

None reported him or, if they did, senior officers took no action.

The Met cover-up propaganda machine went into overdrive with the utterly spurious allegation that police officers attempting to assist Tomlinson had been hampered by a hail of bottles thrown at them by demonstrators protesting against the G20 summit.

Once again, the police officers present must have known this to be a bare-faced lie, but either they said nothing or senior officers paid them no heed.

The police's "three wise monkeys" routine could have carried the day but for the honesty of a visiting US citizen who filmed the entire event and passed his footage to the Guardian, exposing the web of deception surrounding Tomlinson's demise.

The Tomlinson family and their supporters have confronted every barrier to justice thrown up before them and have acted in a dignified and determined manner.

Neither the "all in it together" co-ordination of officers' lies nor the convenient dodgy first post mortem that suggested a heart attack as the cause of death could dissuade the family from seeking first the truth and then a lawful and just outcome.

No-one can pretend now to be unaware how Tomlinson met his death. Nor can they feign ignorance about the efforts made to frustrate the family campaign for truth and justice.

There is always hope when light is shone on cases of police brutality and corruption that the lessons learned may in some way minimise the likelihood of any repetition.

However, there can be little confidence of such a conclusion as long as senior officers take no action over unlawful violence, false evidence and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Maxine de Brunner claims to "take full responsibility for the actions of Simon Harwood on April 1 2009," which clearly she does not.

Taking "full responsibility" for wrongdoing without any penalty is the sophistry of politicians and business leaders.

It sounds like an apology, but it signifies less than nothing.

"Full responsibility" is a soundbite designed to mollify public opinion and convey the impression that an issue has been dealt with once and for all.

Unfortunately, without root-and-branch reform of the police, the Tomlinson family will not be the last to face a "hard uphill battle" for justice after the unlawful killing of an innocent relative.

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