Lies and Innuendo in the Ian Tomlinson Case 98

The American tourist who captured on video what may have been the second assault on Ian Tomlinson by the Police, has done us a great favour.

I have been on several demonstrations in Central London in the last few years, and like everyone else who has done that, I have got used to the experience of being constantly filmed. Central London – and particularly the area around Bishopsgate – is fully covered by CCTV. In addition you had at the G20 demonstration scores of police cameramen filming from every vantage point at a demonstration. I have no doubt that on the recent huge Gaza demo I was filmed every step for two miles.

Let me be quite plain. I do not believe that there was no official footage of the police assault on Ian Tomlinson. Just as the security cameras in Stockwell station and on the train were “Not working” in the Jean Charles De Menezes case, I accuse the Police of subverting the video evidence.

So thank God for that American tourist – and thank God he went to the Guardian rather than to the Police. If unanswerable video evidence had not now been produced, what lies do you think we would now be being told?

A lie can be delivered by innuendo. The so-called “Independent Police Complaints Commission” – whose investigations in this case are being conducted by the City of London Police – had put out a statement saying that “it appeared that Mr Tomlinson had contact with the Police.” If we had not seen the video, what image does that conjure up in your mind?

Mr Tomlinson did not have contact with the Police. He had contact from the Police – they came up behind him when he was just walking down the road, and without warning hit him with a baton. This was in fact Mr Tomlinson’s second contact from the Police – he had already been turned away from his route home by another police cordon, and it is possible he was mishandled there too.

New Labour trolls are active all over the web – including in comments on my earlier post here:

We will see more of these attacks on Mr Tomlinson in the next few days, just as Jean Charles De Menezes’ character was slurred (illegal immigrant, drug addict – all untrue).

The claim that Tomlinson died of a heart attack brought on by alcohol is pathetic.

I hope that the family are now getting good advice, and I for one would be happy to donate to a fund for an independent autopsy. Under New Labour we cannot trust the official one.

We also need a radical reconstruction of a police force which thinks it can attack and kill members of the public with impunity, and of the legal framework in which they operate. The legal system has ruled in terms that police may kill people and then may lie about it in court.

We have reached the stage in the UK where we need a revolutionary change. We have to sweep out the old order of corrupt politicians whose one guiding principle is to keep their own snouts in the trough: of City bankers who are multi-millionaires from their bubble scams and whose lifestyles and jobs the ordinary people are now supporting by a massive tax and debt burden, while nobody guarantees the jobs of those ordinary people who fund it all.

We have to realise that the end of the centuries old prohibition of torture by agents of the state is of a piece with the freedom of the police to maintain the system of power by fatal force, in both cases without consequence. You cannot separate this brutalisation of power from the illegal war that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and thousands of our own soldiers, on the basis of a lie but really to secure oil.

The whole system stinks from the head like a fish. And people are starting at last to understand where the smell comes from.

98 thoughts on “Lies and Innuendo in the Ian Tomlinson Case

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  • NeilHoskins

    I’m afraid I feel your use of the term ‘brutal murder’ undermines your credibility. Jean Charles de Menezes was brutally murdered. Barbara Leach was brutally murdered. What I see in the video is an unprovoked common assault. The fact that he died then leads to the possibility of manslaughter. The incident is worthy of anger and indignation certainly, but doesn’t look like a premeditated murder to me. (And I’m not a nu labour troll, just pragmatic and cynical.)

  • Whirlio

    I think there will always be police willing to give protesters a bashing, although they had the velvet gloves out for the Tamils it seems – 5 arrests for a medium-sized illegal demo at westminster? Unheard of!

    Instead of expecting whole system change, the best we can expect, in my opinion, is accountability by individual police officers. Will the police turn around and say “ok no more kettling and we’ll be nice to all protesters unless it turns into a riot without our provocation”? Or would it be more achievable to suggest that the pushing policeman is brought to account?

  • Nadia

    I remember when I lived in Iraq I used to have thoughts and ideas about what is that makes police, secret police and military forces go against their own people?

    In Iraq it was not so difficult to understand for the fact was simple do as the government with power orders OR you will yourself and/or your family end up threatened, tortured or killed.

    But what about police, secret police etc in democratic countries as we have seen time and time again for example in the UK?

    They do not have a gun pointed at their head if they do not do as the government wants.

    How have this mentality we (gov, police etc) against them (ordinary people) come to be acted out in such brutality?

    How far are they willing to go?

  • kc

    Cynical Neil:

    Stop being so cute with your legal jargonese. Craig is perfectly correct. This is an unprovoked, premeditated attack which resulted in this man dying. It’s murder by any other name and you appear to be missing the point of Craig’s central thesis regarding unaccountable police brutality and its relation to Government approved (‘turn-a-blin-eye’) torture. (Apologies Craig if I may be misquoting you. I should let you reply for yourself but am compelled to respond by my shock at how sanguine and cynical people can be about this man’s death)

    Whirlio: a ‘system change’ is called a revolution. It’s happened before, you know. If the current shambles the world is in doesn’t make you passionate for a change in the status quo, then nothing will.

    Regarding cctv Craig – I think it’s marvellous how technology that at first is deployed by the powers that be has now become democratised (mobile phones with video facility) and is used to highlight their abuses of power. The only downside is that the authorities know this and will be making the neccessary adjustments in policy.

  • hatfield girl

    These demonstrations of control by force that New Labour indulges in have got to end. There was no economic or financial ‘meltdown’ reason for these massive regime demonstrations throughout central London. Now they are imprisoning us and beating us and killing us on our own streets to show that only their regime can demonstrate – no-one else.

    How can anyone go on supporting what the Labour party has become?

  • Reason

    We are fortunate that the American visitor took the film of the police in the first place. If Jacqui Smith had her way, then no one could film the police.

  • JimmyGiro


    Have a look at “Stanley Milgram” on wikipedia; it will expose the fatalism of obedience toward authority, inherent in the majority of ‘civilised’ people.

    We may all do ourselves a great service, if we understood and nurtured that which stops us from forming into fascists, because the natural condition of the human race, suggested by Milgram’s research, is that of heartless collectivism, of fascist compliance.

  • Anas Taunton

    The police have taken guidance from the courts that a malicious threat made a member of the public in the heat of the moment can constitute an assault as much as hitting someone. But they frequently physically assault innocent members of the public, without listening to their explanations.

    Hazel Blears has decided that merely expressing anger at what happened in Gaza is unacceptable and the BBC said that feeling pity for the people of Gaza was not a cause they could support. Nevertheless, by and large the public still say: Blair didn’t have any choice about going to Iraq. The Home Secretary’s private life is her own concern. It’s a global recession.

    Not so. As soon as Blair said the meaning of democracy is that an elected government does not have to consult public opinion, – you delegated all authority to us,- we were doomed. Consultation and debate enables governments to get things right, utilising the experience of people who know more about things than them.

    No one would be protesting or complaining about our present problems if they had been the result of decisions made by government after the traditional consultation with and respect for the public and their representatives in parliament. We saw it all coming but Blair’s faulty construct of democracy means government alone is to blame.

  • Juan Kerr

    Did anyone see the guy walking away from the police and the policeman rushing behind him and sending him flying into the air without any reason?

    I have collected evidence also of Scottish police going after SNP Bloggers and offering to share info with the Nationalist Alliance(combat 18 bnp faction) Membership! It makes quite a read!It even leads back to one of their own websites!

  • Darren

    Look it is obvious the guy had a dicky ticker. If one of the G20 “demonstrators” had jumped out in a gimp mask and shouted “boo!” the same outcome would have happened.

    But seriously, the police are out of control and not fit for purpose. My recent experiences with the police reveal to me that they are not fit for purpose, that they have no real interest in preventing crime and do their best to protect the interests of the criminals in our society.

    The interesting thing is that the police feel that they can act this way and get away with it. Obviously this kind of behaviour is the norm for them, but this time they got caught because of the fatality.

    This is worse than the Menezes case because this was completely unprovoked and random. While the Menezes case was terrible and needn’t have happened, if one looks objectively at the case one can see how the heightened security of the days after the terrorist atrocities and the complete breakdown of communication can be responsible for such a terrible thing. Not excusable, of course.

    My burning memory of the Menezes case was watching the live BBC News coverage from outside Stockwell and one seemingly “normal” looking fellow, a witness, told how the victim ran down the stairs, was wearing a big coat, and refused to comply with the officers. Obviously, this guy was a stooge. Someone should try and find that footage – it would make interesting viewing again, but I reckon it might have “disappeared”.

  • Dougie

    The video footage will help the family make a case. In my opinion I would say the officer who barged the victim did so illegally and as such is open to prosecution, that was clearly not ‘reasonable force’ The attack no doubt was a contributory factor in the death of the victim, however, I wouldn’t hold my breath that justice will be done. For what it’s worth I think the term is involuntary manslaughter rather than murder.

  • Strategist

    Sorry if I’m repeating myself here, but surely we don’t need CCTV footage of the assault if a proper postmortem examination has been made. A truncheon blow to the head would be plain to an expert?

    So, my questions are:

    Where is the body now?

    Who is in charge of it now?

    Who conducted the postmortem examination?

    Where is that person’s report now?

    Will there be a coroner’s inquest? When will it be held, were will it be held?

    It’s remarkable how rarely an independent public inquiry is called on anything these days. Yet who can rely on the City of London Police conducting a fair inquiry for the IPCC, when they have already compromised themselves with the statements they have already made?

  • Stephen

    How do we know he didn’t die from the same cause as Natasha Richardson. From Wikipedia:

    “The injury was followed by a lucid interval, when Richardson seemed to be fine and was able to talk and act appropriately…An autopsy conducted by the New York City Medical Examiners Office on 19 March revealed the cause of death was an ‘epidural hematoma due to blunt impact to the head'”.

  • ken

    Yes, it’s absolutely imperative that the body is properly cared for, fully and independently examined and everything published. Consequently, the police will be trying to prevent any of that happening. Stephen above (1:32pm) is right about delayed effects of head injury, which is why any sort of concussion however ‘trivial’, is taken absolutely seriously by A&E medics. I know, I’ve had a few (a life of racing and riding motorbikes, I’m afraid) and if the medic, through careful questioning, has the slightest suspicion that you lost consciousness for just a single second, you will not be allowed back on your feet for quite a while. This is almost certainly what happened to Ian Tomlinson but it won’t be revealed by any videos, only by a thorough and independant post mortem. And I think we, and his family, will find it utterly impossible to ensure one takes place under what passes for ‘freedom’ in our country now. In fact, if his body has already been examined once, it is probably already too late for a proper examination to now take place.

  • Michael Irving

    Craig: “We have reached the stage in the UK

    where we need a revolutionary change.”

    YES. We need massive change. Agreed.

    I wasn’t sure what you were saying about Obama the other day, Craig. But we agree on massive change. And that is more than enough agreement for now, and for the situation we are all in.

  • ken

    Nadia above asks how it is that the British police are now so willing to exercise violence against ordinary people in the street. It’s simple, they are brutalised, and there are a myriad ways of doing that. I said in a previous topic, my son is a Met constable, he doesn’t say much, but his silences and “nothing much” comments speak volumes. He’s maneouvred his career to be out of the areas from which officers are drafted in to man these demos, and refers to the scores who volunteer for this work as ‘animals’. Moral is kept deliberately low so that policemen, generally, are angry with their lot. Maybe even Gilbert and Sullivan already knew that. Perhaps that was Ian Blair’s secret objective? Jacquie Smith withheld the full payment of the last independently-agreed pay review, not because “the nation’s economy couldn’t afford it,” (how hollow that sounds now!) but simply to make the police angry. Every policy enacted by the Government that interferes with the management of the police, often seen as more moral-lowering interference, is just that, designed to make the constables, maybe even subliminally, more and more dissatisfied. Think about it, a police force that is happy with its lot, its wages, its bosses and conditions, won’t be much use in keeping the rest of the population from demonstrating against government excesses, endless restictions and totalitarianism!

  • jay Vos

    Saw this on the Justice 4 Jean Facebook site:


    “The family of Jean Charles de Menezes and their Campaign wish to express their deep condolences to the family of Ian Tomlinson over his tragic death. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

    “We have been following the emerging evidence relating to the police assault on Ian with grave sadness as we remember the early accounts of how Jean Charles’ death was reported. The Tomlinson family has a right to find out the truth behind what led to Ian’s death.

    “We are concerned that the police appear to have misled the public about vital information regarding the circumstances of Ian’s death and find it deeply worrying that Ian’s death is not being independently investigated but rather; the City of London police force is investigating the Metropolitan police. How can an investigation claim to be independent if police officers are investigating themselves?

    “The notion that the Met has fully learned the lessons of the Menezes tragedy must be called into question in the way in which they have handled the aftermath of Ian Tomlinson’s death. The media also must shoulder some criticism for its continued unquestioning acceptance of police accounts of contentious deaths.

    “Justice4Jean continues to campaign to ensure that no family has to go through what the Menezes family endured. We have long called for an independent inquiry into the over arching issues raised by the shooting including the ability of the IPCC to deliver justice and how the police are able to repeatedly mislead the public over contentious deaths. The need for such an inquiry is clearly needed now more than ever and we hope the Tomlinson family get the truth and justice they deserve.”…? gid=3035927451

  • Lord Stansted

    I agree with the first contributor, Neil Hoskins. Murder implies intent to kill, and I doubt if such an intention could be proved here. At the very least, however, the policeman should be charged with assault. Whether the policeman was justified in his actions would came out in a trail.

  • mrjohn

    The fact so many people show up to these demos shows that the public have lost faith in the democratic process, such as it is.

  • Jaded

    If we were in the U.S. now talking like this we would probably be rounded up or have men in black on our doorsteps. :-0 They probably wouldn’t let us in if they knew who we were. After all, ESTA was about keeping the ‘baddies’ out! Any change is positive. I reckon we should all push for comprehensive banking regulation, one fully nationalised bank and an end to all charges. It’s a prime time for us to strike on that. Get a big win on that, nothing less, and then move on to the next issue. That would the education system for me. That would be a masssive start. I also think that dissenting sites should hook up with each other in some way. A revolution won’t change much in the long term I don’t think. We need to create our democracy bit by bit.

  • Ruth

    This whole thing absolutely reeks. It’s far more likely judging from the witness statements that he died from a head injury. For a patholgist not to come up with any external injuries just shows how far corruption has seeped into every aspect of government. The pathologist who carries out a second postmortem must be proven to be beyond reproach; the government will have a lot riding on the outcome.

  • Anonymous

    ‘one fully nationalised bank.’

    I mean at least one, not just one bank in the country, to be clear.

    ‘I agree with the first contributor, Neil Hoskins. Murder implies intent to kill, and I doubt if such an intention could be proved here. At the very least, however, the policeman should be charged with assault. Whether the policeman was justified in his actions would came out in a trail.’

    That was brutal involuntary manslaughter and nothing less. A Judge would have to determine the exact circumstances and apporpriate sentence. If I ran up behind a copper and whacked him with a stick and shoved him to the ground and he died I wonder what would happen to me?

  • Justin

    On the basis that a picture tells a thousand words, the Metropolitan Police seem to be pioneering radical and revolutionary new ‘alternative medicine’ techniques with regard to assisting people at protests, as the photograph below clearly demonstrates.

    See the picture at The Antagonist’s blog post ‘Rioting Police Physician, Heal Thy Self’, here:

  • fortuzero

    Why was the “officer” who killed Mr Tomlinson a)hiding his face, and b)not wearing eppelettes?

    ALL of the other officers had theirs, as usual, on display. Only this ONE did not.

    If you have not watched the video, do. Slow it down, freeze frame it and analyze if necessary. He is not wearing any, or has hidden them. Either this was premeditated, or, this was not a regular police officer. Very odd indeed. Also, note how he seems to make off towards the end of the video.

  • Ruth

    Obviously the new law prohibiting the taking of photos of police officers is so that they can beat up and murder any of us.

    Craig asked in a previous entry what the 4,500 people at MI5 actually did for a living. I think fortuzero has given us the answer.

  • Akheloios

    We’re very rapidly approaching a re-enactment of the Peterloo masacre. Police are being armed with additional leathal weapons such as the taser, and in full riot gear and in ranks are in no danger from any crowd.

    If things aren’t stopped, the next peaceful protest could turn into a bloody mess as people refuse to be denied their right to march and the Police kill a number of them as punishment.

  • Ruth

    Yes, according to Ian Parker-Joseph soldiers are being asked if they are prepared to fire on civilians.

  • Strategist

    Martin: “My faith in the British press has been rekindled.”

    I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I have now read a print copy of today’s Guardian and you can’t fault the space they have made for this story and the rigour of the coverage.

    I could easily believe The Guardian have been shamed into this by criticism in the blogosphere, and want to prove what a newspaper can do. But credit where credit’s due, a good piece of investigative reporting.

    Fortuzero: “Why was the “officer” who killed Mr Tomlinson a)hiding his face, and b)not wearing eppelettes?”

    Careful here. Low resolution pics from handheld video/mobile phones can easily be misinterpreted. Sounds odd, but just because you can’t see the epaulettes doesn’t necessarily mean they weren’t there. What I would focus on is, there is plenty of ways of identifying who this cop is, and I hope he is volunteering himself to assist in the inquiry. But let’s have his testimony on the public record.

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