Tomlinson family receive apology for use of excessive force by G20 officer
The Metropolitan Police have issued an apology for the use of excessive force four years after newspaper seller, Ian Tomlinson, was struck with a baton and pushed to the ground from behind by PC Simon Harwood during the 2009 G20 protests.
Minutes later, Tomlinson collapsed to the ground and later died of internal bleeding caused by the fall. The Metropolitan deputy assistant commissioner, Maxine de Brunner, issued an apology which read: “I take full responsibility for the actions of Simon Harwood on 1 April 2009. His actions fell far below the standard we expect from our officers. I accept the finding of the inquest that Mr Tomlinson was unlawfully killed.”
As the jury found, ‘at the time of the strike and push Mr Tomlinson was walking away from the police line. He was complying with police instructions to leave Royal Exchange Buildings. He posed no threat.’ Today, I apologise unreservedly for Simon Harwood’s use of excessive and unlawful force, which caused Mr Tomlinson’s death, and for the suffering and distress caused to his family as a result.”
In response, widow Julia Tomlinson said that the apology was “as close as the family would get to justice,” also citing the “uphill struggle” faced by the family over the past four years.
The original post-mortem concluded that Tomlinson, an alcoholic, died of natural causes manifesting themselves in heart failure. This was overruled by two further post-mortems which established that Tomlinson died from internal bleeding in the liver, consistent with an injury gained from falling.
The Tomlinson family was not originally told by police that Tomlinson had been struck by an officer minutes before the collapse. This was only revealed when The Guardian published a video filmed by an American in London on business, showing PC Harwood striking and then pushing Tomlinson to the ground.
The Metropolitan police acknowledged these failings, stating: “The commissioner acknowledges that this case has highlighted significant failings in the vetting procedures of the Metropolitan police service and we have taken steps to put in place new procedures that will improve public confidence.”
PC Harwood was later found not guilty of manslaughter in a criminal court.