May 22 2013 Latest news:
Monday, September 17, 2012
Police officer Simon Harwood, who was cleared of killing Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests, has been dismissed from the Met Police with immediate effect after being found guilty of gross misconduct by a disciplinary panel for discreditable conduct and use of force.
Pc Harwood admitted that he used unnecessary force when he hit newspaper seller Mr Tomlinson with his baton and shoved him to the ground during the G20 protests near the Royal Exchange Buildings in the City of London in April 2009.
The 45-year-old also accepted that his actions and the way they were reported had brought discredit on the Metropolitan Police, and that this amounted to gross misconduct.
Today, a police panel found that he had breached standards over discreditable conduct, use of force and authority, respect and courtesy, and that this should be counted as gross misconduct.
Chairman of the panel Commander Julian Bennett said of Pc Harwood: “His actions have discredited the police service and undermined public confidence in it.
“He has accepted it will be impossible for him to ever again serve as a police officer. We agree, as we consider it inconceivable that he could ever hold a role within the police service again.”
Mr Bennett said Harwood was dismissed with immediate effect.
James Lewis QC, for the Metropolitan Police, told the hearing Harwood’s behaviour was “utterly unacceptable for the police service and completely justifies his immediate dismissal”.
The hearing was told by Patrick Gibbs QC, for Pc Harwood, that the officer accepted that it was “impossible for him ever again to be employed as a police officer”.
The panel, consisting of two police officers and a lay member, decided not to consider an allegation that Pc Harwood’s actions inadvertently caused or contributed to 47-year-old Mr Tomlinson’s death.
Father-of-nine Mr Tomlinson, an alcoholic who had lived rough for several years, managed to walk 75 yards after he was hit and pushed, but collapsed and later died from internal injuries.
The hearing was told that Harwood had twice offered to resign from the Met following the death, because he thought it was “the right thing to do”.
Mr Gibbs said: “He has described again and again the huge gap between what he understood at the time and thought he was doing at the time, and what he now realises was the case.
“He had no way of knowing at the time what Mr Tomlinson’s level of intoxication was and all of the medical difficulties before that time.”
Mr Tomlinson’s widow, Julia, and his two stepsons walked out of the hearing room saying “Whitewash” as Mr Gibbs addressed the panel.
Pc Harwood, from Carshalton in Surrey, has already been acquitted of Mr Tomlinson’s manslaughter, although an inquest found that Mr Tomlinson was unlawfully killed.
This is the first time that a police disciplinary hearing has been held in public by the Met.
Earlier, Mr Gibbs told the panel: “Pc Harwood does indeed accept that the discredit which his actions, and the way in which they have been reported, has brought upon the Metropolitan Police Service amounts to gross misconduct. He has twice offered his resignation to the Commissioner.”
He said that, with the benefit of hindsight, Harwood would have used “no force at all” if he had known about the state of Mr Tomlinson’s health.
Mr Gibbs said: “If he had known then what he now knows about the circumstances, everybody’s movements and Mr Tomlinson’s health, he would have used no force, let alone the force that he did use.”
Pc Harwood has a controversial police disciplinary record, and a number of allegations were made against him over a 12-year period. He was allowed to retire from the Met on medical grounds in 2001 despite unresolved disciplinary proceedings.
He was accused of unlawful arrest, abuse of authority and discreditable conduct over an incident when he allegedly shouted at another driver and knocked him over his car door, before announcing that he was a police officer and arresting the motorist on a common assault charge.
But the proceedings were discontinued when he retired.
Pc Harwood later rejoined the force as a civilian worker before becoming a police officer for Surrey. He was then allowed to rejoin the Met in 2004 as part of its territorial support group (TSG), specialising in public order.
After he was acquitted of manslaughter, police watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission said his case raised “grave concerns” about Met vetting procedures.
The force admitted that proper checks had not been made, but said processes had since changed.