Update on case of Ian Tomlinson

29 Nov 2010 03:14 PM

IPCC Deputy Chair and Commissioner for London Deborah Glass has today announced the detail of the misconduct allegations to be put to Police Constable Simon Harwood, the officer who struck Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests.

Since the CPS decision in July not to prosecute, considerable work has been  done by the MPS with regard to the detail of the misconduct allegations to be put to him. The formal proposals of the MPS were provided to the IPCC on 9 November and agreed by Commissioner Deborah Glass on 11 November.

The officer has today been served with the papers requiring him to attend a hearing.

The allegations to be put to him are:

  • that he struck Mr Tomlinson on his left thigh with his baton;
  • that he pushed Mr Tomlinson so that he fell to the ground;
  • such dangerous actions inadvertently caused or contributed to the death of Mr Tomlinson on 1 April 2009
  • the use of force was not necessary, proportionate or reasonable in the circumstances.

The IPCC Commissioner has today written to the Tomlinson family, the officer and 105 potential witnesses to begin the process of consultation about whether the misconduct hearing should be held in public. This is a requirement under the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2008 if the IPCC Commissioner wishes to consider the prospect of a misconduct hearing in public.

In addition, given the pending inquest, for which no date has yet been set, and the potential for a review at the end of it by the Crown Prosecution Service, the IPCC Commissioner is also seeking the views of the appointed Coroner, Judge Thornton QC, and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Deborah Glass said: From the moment the video was published to the world in April 2009, there has been an overwhelming public feeling that the officer seen to strike Ian Tomlinson should be held accountable for his actions.

I have agreed with the Metropolitan Police Service that the officer should face an allegation of gross misconduct, in that he struck and pushed Ian Tomlinson on 1 April 2009, such dangerous actions inadvertently causing or contributing to his death. The officer has today been served with the papers to allow the hearing to be held.  

I am aware that, to those who are not familiar with the police misconduct system, it is difficult to understand why this process should take so long.  

First, we had to await a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service about whether a criminal case would be brought. That decision was made by the CPS on 22 July 2010. Following their decision not to prosecute, we had to then await the misconduct proposals of the Metropolitan Police, which we formally received and agreed earlier this month.

I know how seriously the Met have taken this matter. Although misconduct hearings are determined on a lower burden of proof, the Met still needed to  consider the same difficult issues identified by the CPS in their decision not to prosecute. To include the allegation that the officer’s actions caused Mr Tomlinson’s death was a tough decision and in my view is the right thing to do.

Finally, in normal circumstances and in most professions misconduct hearings are internal matters. This is usually the case for police officers too. However, in exceptional circumstances, regulations do allow the IPCC to direct a police force to hold a misconduct hearing in public.

Because of the gravity and exceptional circumstances of this case I consider that it may be in the public interest for me to direct that the hearing be held in public. I have therefore begun the required process of consulting the necessary parties. These include the Tomlinson family, the officer himself, and any witnesses, before I make a decision. I am also consulting the Coroner and the Director of Public Prosecutions, who I know also have an interest in this matter.”

A panel of three will preside over the hearing – two senior Metropolitan Police officers and an independent member of the public selected from a list appointed by the Metropolitan Police Authority.  The timing of the hearing and other such arrangements are a matter for the Chair of that panel.

Notes to editors:

The IPCC has written to interested parties today and asked for responses by close of play on 21 December.

A document outlining the criteria for holding misconduct hearings in public can be found at: http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/criteria_for_website.pdf

The IPCC has written to 105 witnesses as part of the consultation process. They are: 34 members of the public, 49 police officers, 9 ambulance personnel, and 13 medical and other experts.