Thursday, 19 July 2012


Pc Simon Harwood, the officer who did this to shambling, alcoholic, innocent Ian Tomlinson, has been found not guilty of manslaughter. Despite Tomlinson having done nothing to provoke or inconvenience the police, a jury decided that Harwood - a man with a litany of violent assaults and corruption on his record - should go free.

What is manslaughter? It's killing someone without 'malice aforethought' (though malice seems pretty apparent in the video), and by being 'grossly negligent' about the victim's life and safety. Harwood smashed into Tomlinson from behind and without warning - which seems pretty negligent to me. Tomlinson may have been drunk or otherwise oblivious to events, and his physical condition may have made death more likely, but Harwood wasn't to know this - and nor should the jury have taken it into account. Did Harwood smash someone up without consideration of Tomlinson's safety? Clearly yes.

The coroner thought so - he declared a verdict of unlawful killing. Juries rarely find police officers guilty, but I'm shocked by this one - it took the view that Harwood didn't use criminal force and the blow didn't cause Tomlinson's death. Two pathologists testified: one who said the blow did kill him and one who said it didn't. The jury wasn't told that he's the cops' usual tame pathologist and one who's been twice suspended for making postmortem mistakes and kicked off the Home Office's register of approved pathologists. So much for justice.

The family intends to mount a civil action against Harwood. I hope they win. I've served on a jury. Between the prejudices of my fellow jurors, the stupidity of the lawyers (for the prosecution and the defence), police failures (in one case, innocence could easily have been established - in the other, guilt could equally easily have been proven) and judicial detachment from reality ('what is this 'Stella Artois'? 'A lager beer, your Honour' 'And in what quantities does one consume this 'Stella Artois'?'), I didn't feel justice was done at all.

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