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Defend the Right to Protest » Uncategorized » Police officer accused of killing Tomlinson says firearm was option

Police officer accused of killing Tomlinson says firearm was option

Read Nadine El-Enany’s report for Defend the Right to Protest on the trial of Simon Harwood who gave evidence on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Defend the Right to Protest will be continuing to offer support to the Tomlinson family throughout the trial of Harwood.

Wednesday 4 July 2021

Written by Nadine El-Enany [Defend the Right to Protest]

In the course of the trial of PC Harwood, the police officer accused of the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests of 2009, yesterday the court heard that in run up to Harwood’s hitting Tomlinson with a baton and pushing him to the ground – an act which the prosecution argue caused internal bleeding that led to Tomlinson’s death – Harwood pushed a BBC cameraman to the ground, shoved a protester and thrust a coat in the face of another. All this followed his attempt to arrest a young man who had allegedly been attempting to write something on a police van. The court saw footage of an officer opening the car door of a police van so that it hit the protester in the face as Harwood dragged him along the street. After the young man slipped out of his coat to escape from his grip, it was suggested that Harwood experienced “a rush of blood to his head” (in the prosecution’s words) and proceeded to handle a number of individuals violently, one of whom was Ian Tomlinson. Harwood was accused of using a ‘strike first and ask questions later, or not at all’ attitude.


PC Simon Harwood is on trial for the manslaughter of newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests in London in 2009. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

The court was shown footage of Harwood’s attack on Tomlinson, who is seen walking away from the police line. As a female officer steps forward to talk to Tomlinson, Harwood is seen coming from behind, stepping past two police dogs, in order to hit and push Tomlinson to the ground, who barely has enough time to take his hands out of his pockets to protect himself as he falls. Although Harwood accepted that he “shouldn’t have hit him with a baton and pushed him”, that his “involvement” with Tomlinson was wrong and that if he had known Tomlinson was as “poorly” as he was, he “wouldn’t have gone anywhere near him”, when asked to list the options open to him in a situation such as that in which he and Ian Tomlinson found himself in, Harwood stated he could have “battened him to the arm or leg, kicked or punched him, used CS spray, cuffed him…” When asked why using his voice hadn’t come further up the list, Harwood insisted there were many options, including using a firearm against Tomlinson. At this, Tomlinson’s widow and children left the courtroom. When accused by the prosecution of opting for violent force first, Harwood replied that he had used reasonable force.

In the course of giving evidence, Harwood admitted that his initial log of what happened on the day of the G20 demo was almost wholly inaccurate. He had claimed he had fallen to the floor and received a blow to the head by a thrown missile, that he was hit while trying to arrest the man attempting to graffiti the police van and that he had dropped his baton during the day. He accepted in court that nothing of this had actually happened. It was suggested by the prosecution that Harwood had fabricated his log to create a “misimpression” in an attempt to cover up what he had done that day.

Yesterday’s BBC’s report on PC Harwood’s cross-examination misrepresented the evidence heard in court. The BBC stated that Harwood (and his wife) broke down in the course of his giving evidence on his attack on Tomlinson. This is untrue. Harwood broke down only when he was speaking of his own motorcycle accident of some years ago.

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