If you don’t recall the Blair Peach case well here’s a refresher–
Blair was an east London teacher who had come over from New Zealand. He was also a member of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and the Anti Nazi League. He was killed protesting at the Nazi National Front (NF), which was holding a meeting in the predominantly Asian area of Southall, west London. His police killers still walk free.
“As the police rushed past him, one of them hit him on the head with the stick. I was in my garden and saw this quite clearly. He was left sitting against the wall. He tried to get up, but he was shivering and looked very strange. He couldn’t stand. Then the police came back and told him, ‘Move! Come on, move!’ They were very rough with him and I was shocked because it was clear he was seriously hurt.”
When the lockers and some houses of Special Patrol Group members were later searched coshes, knives, bayonets, swords and Nazi regalia were found. The unit was later disbanded. But since then the police have been consistently deployed to defend Nazi events in Britain.
His supporters, The Friends of Blair Peach have now written to the Met to address the whitewash that meant no copper was charged with anything despite the Nazi regalia in one of the attacking cop’s home & locker and witness testimony of police brutality.
OPEN LETTER TO THE HOME SECRETARY AND THE COMMISSIONER OF THE METROPOLITAN POLICE
On April 23rd 1979 at a demonstration against the presence of the far right National Front in Southall a friend of mine, Blair Peach, was struck over the head by an, as yet, still unidentified member of the Special Patrol Group and died the next day from injuries sustained from the blow.
A subsequent enquiry into the events of that day by Commander Cass has never been released in full but we are able to say that a number of things have been established. When the lockers of three of the named officers were opened and the home of another was searched the following items were found.
PC White: crowbar, small metal cosh, whip handle, whip, brass handle.
PC Woodcock: US type truncheon, two knives.
Inspector Hopkins: wooden truncheon.
PC Bint’s house revealed bayonets, swords, a cosh and Nazi memorabilia.
All of these things, but especially the Nazi memorabilia found in the home of PC Bint, should have given rise to the greatest of concern about the political orientation of at least some of the members of the SPG. The investigation conducted by Commander Cass at the time has never been made fully public but it believed that he recommended that at least six officers should have been prosecuted for, amongst other things, murder and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Although an early day motion was signed shortly in 1980 by nearly 150 MPs demanding a public enquiry, none was ever conducted. One of the MPs who signed was Jack Straw who, when he became Home Secretary, refused to conduct the very investigation he had asked for nearly two decades earlier.
Various ruses have been used by the Metropolitan Police over the years to prevent the publication of the report. The latest is a refusal under the Freedom of Information Act on the grounds that it ” would affect the immediate family and friends of Blair Peach, owing to the circumstances of the death and the information contained within the report”. As far as is known, the family has never been consulted about this and someone has taken the decision on their behalf.
It is highly unlikely that, had the inquest taken place today, the jury would have returned a verdict of misadventure. A number of factors effecting the original decision of death by misadventure would not have applied. The press and the political establishment almost uniformly blamed the anti fascists for the violence. Press cuttings of the time describe a race riot which it most certainly was not. It was a riot by police officers, which could have been prevented by the Metropolitan Police asking the Home Secretary to ban the march.
The Met themselves must take a great deal of responsibility for the events, not only of that day, but for several years of provocative National Front matches, many of them through areas with high proportions of ethnic minorities, with easily predictable results: vilence, arrests and convictions, damage to property and finally death.
There is no longer any excuse for the Cass report not to be released in full and the longer it is not, the more it looks as if the police are covering up another shameful page in their history. This is not an exercise in retribution or revenge, simply an attempt to get justice for Blair and to establish the fact that people have right to protest peacefully without the risk of injury or death from those whose job it is to preserve the conditions for peaceful protest.
I look forward to hearing from you both.
The Friends of Blair Peach
So 30 years later and…looks like they have done it again, we have already seen the difference between the police version of events and the publics regarding the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests, but now the gap is wider than ever. The version of events propagated through the media by the police-
The man had collapsed within a police cordon set up to contain the crowds who had assembled in central London and the City to protest over the G20 summit. There were 63 arrests on the day.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission was being notified last night. Scotland Yard said the alarm had been raised by a member of the public who spoke to a police officer on a cordon at the junction of Birchin Lane and Cornhill in the City.
He sent two medics through the cordon line and into nearby St Michael’s Alley where they found a man who had stopped breathing. They called for ambulance support at about 7.30pm and moved him back behind the cordon where they gave him cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.
“The officers took the decision to move him as during this time a number of missiles – believed to be bottles – were being thrown at them”, said a police statement. The ambulance service took the man to hospital where he died.
A London ambulance spokesman said: “Our staff immediately took over the treatment of the patient and made extensive efforts to resuscitate him both at the scene and on the way to hospital.”
Now what is coming out-
Investigators are examining a series of corroborative accounts that allege Ian Tomlinson, 47, was a victim of police violence in the moments before he collapsed near the Bank of England in the City of London last Wednesday evening. Three witnesses have told the Observer that Mr Tomlinson was attacked violently as he made his way home from work at a nearby newsagents. One claims he was struck on the head with a baton.
Photographer Anna Branthwaite said: “I can remember seeing Ian Tomlinson. He was rushed from behind by a riot officer with a helmet and shield two or three minutes before he collapsed.” Branthwaite, an experienced press photographer, has made a statement to the IPCC.
Another independent statement supports allegations of police violence. Amiri Howe, 24, recalled seeing Mr Tomlinson being hit “near the head” with a police baton. Howe took one of a sequence of photographs that show a clearly dazed Mr Tomlinson being helped by a bystander.
A female protester, who does not want to be named but has given her testimony to the IPCC, said she saw a man she later recognised as Tomlinson being pushed aggressively from behind by officers. “I saw a man violently propelled forward, as though he’d been flung by the arm, and fall forward on his head.
“He hit the top front area of his head on the pavement. I noticed his fall particularly because it struck me as a horrifically forceful push by a policeman and an especially hard fall; it made me wince.”
Mr Tomlinson, a married man who lived alone in a bail hostel, was not taking part in the protests. Initially, his death was attributed by a police post mortem to natural causes. A City of London police statement said: “[He] suffered a sudden heart attack while on his way home from work.”
But this version of events was challenged after witnesses recognised the dead man from photographs that were published on Friday.
So there’s a lesson in this, they get away with it and like any good recidivist they do it again. Now then a reminder of the sort of police involved in the G20 operation, just swap SPG for TSG –
The Met has confirmed that since 1992 all six (TSG) officers involved in the Ahmad assault had been subject to at least 77 complaints. When lawyers for Ahmad asked for details of these allegations it emerged that the police had “lost” several large mail sacks detailing at least 30 of the complaints.
Created in January 1987, the territorial support group (TSG) is on the frontline of policing in the capital, and its 720 officers are often the first on the scene of major disturbances. TSG units have policed every march and demonstration in London over the past two decades, including the poll tax protests, BNP disturbances and “stop the City” demonstrations. They also provide anti-terrorism support and have firearm and taser expertise. They will be on the frontline again next month when they help to police protesters who are expected to gather for the G20 summit in London.
More than 1,000 serving police officers in Britain have criminal convictions, the Liberal Democrats have reported. [Police Service of Northern Ireland refused to answer the Lib Dems’ request for information.] More than half of the 1,063 convictions relate to speeding or other motoring offences; 77 officers have convictions for violence and 96 for dishonesty.
Don’t have nightmares.