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Police officer who hit man at G20 protests to face manslaughter trial

Ian Tomlinson, a London newspaper vendor, died after being hit and shoved by police using “excessive and unreasonable” force as he tried to make his way home from work during the G20 protests in 2009.

PC Simon Harwood, the police officer who pushed Ian Tomlinson to the ground at the G20 protests two years ago.
PC Simon Harwood, the police officer who pushed Ian Tomlinson to the ground at the G20 protests two years ago.
Image: Jeff Moore/Jeff Moore/Empics Entertainment

THE POLICE OFFICER charged with the manslaughter of London newspaper salesman Ian Tomlinson during the G20 summit protests in the city in 2009 will face prosecution, the UK’s Director of Prosecutions has today announced.

Earlier this year, an inquest into Tomlinson’s death returned a verdict of unlawful death after six doctors agreed that he had died of internal bleeding after being hit with a baton and forced to the ground by police. The jury also found that “excessive and unreasonable” amount of force had been used and that Tomlinson had “posed no threat”.

Tomlinson, 47, had not been involved in the protests and was walking home from work through central London when he was attacked.

In the wake of Tomlinson’s death, police initially denied that they had come into contact with him. However, witnesses at the scene filmed the event and sent footage to the Guardian – proving that the newspaper salesman had been struck by police.

The investigation into the cause of Tomlinson’s death also ran into controversy: the first pathologist to examine his remains, Dr Freddy Patel, returned the verdict that Tomlinson had died of a heart attack. Despite three further pathologists subsequently examining the body and returning a verdict of death from internal bleeding, the attorney general Dominic Grieve backed Patel’s initial report – prompting a furious public backlash.

Last year, Harwood was charged with manslaughter but the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, decided not to prosecute him. Following the verdict of the inquest, Starmer ordered a review of the DPP’s position, reports the BBC.

In a statement released today, Starmer said:

“We have considered the new evidence adduced at the inquest and the final positions adopted by the medical experts very carefully indeed… Having done so, we are satisfied that the position in relation to the medical evidence about the cause of death has clearly changed.

“Taking the evidence as it now stands, we have concluded that, even with [some] remaining difficulties, there is now sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of successfully prosecuting PC Simon Harwood for the manslaughter of Mr Tomlinson. That being the case, it is clearly in the public interest that criminal proceedings be brought.”

Read more: Inquest finds Ian Tomlinson was unlawfully killed at G20 protests >

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