June 18 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, July 19, 2012
A police officer has been cleared of the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests in 2009.
PC Simon Harwood, 45, said he used reasonable force when he hit Mr Tomlinson with a baton and shoved him to the ground as he walked away from police lines in the City.
Mr Tomlinson, 47, was an alcoholic and had slept rough for several years.
Had Mr Harwood been convicted at Southwark Crown Court, it would have been the first time an on duty police officer had been successfully prosecuted for manslaughter.
Giving evidence, Mr Harwood admitted he was “wrong” to hit and push the father-of-nine.
He told the jury: “Now I’ve seen all the evidence and I know how poorly Mr Tomlinson was I’m sorry that I got involved, I shouldn’t have hit him with a baton and pushed him.”
He said he believed Mr Tomlinson, who was drunk at the time, was being deliberately obstructive and that his use of force was reasonable.
Mr Harwood had unsuccessfully tried to arrest a man for writing ACAB - short for ‘all cops are bastards’ - on a police carrier moments before encountering Mr Tomlinson. He also shoved another protester and pulled a TV cameraman to the ground.
Mr Harwood’s previous controversial disciplinary record could not be put before the jury. Multiple allegations were made against him in a period of 12 years, including one which prompted a chief to say his conduct had “fallen well below that expected of a police officer”.
After the inquest into his death last year, lawyers for Mr Tomlinson’s family claimed Mr Harwood kept his job by “side-stepping” the disciplinary process.
Matthew Ryder QC described him as a “rogue officer, who should not have been where he was, in a position to do what he did”.