Wednesday, 25 May 2011

R v Harwood

I really don't understand all the fuss that some officers are making regards the news that PC Simon Harwood (pictured) is now to be charged with the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson.

Tomlinson may have been a drunk who sold the Big Issue and lived in a hostel for down and outs. He may have fathered nine children who he hardly had anything to do with and let the taxpayer pick up the cost of his irresponsibility. His family may have had nothing to do with him and may have now come crawling out of the woodwork smelling the scent of money. He may have been drunk on the day of his death and he may have been being a bloody nuisance. PC Harwood may have had a long day. He may have had a bad day. He may have been under a lot of stress. His supervisors and colleagues may have been inept at keeping him under control.

But none of that is relevant to his innocence or guilt. Some of it may be mitigation IF he is found guilty. If a member of the public had been videoed striking a man with a baton and later pushing him violently when there did not appear to be good grounds to do so, and that man shortly after collapsed and died then I think we would be surprised and probably outraged if they were not charged. I won't need to change my behaviour following this decision and no other officer should either if they behave appropriately and their actions are justified.

The only contention with the decision of the DPP, Kier Starmer, to charge PC Harwood is that a year ago he was told he would not be. The DPP has decided that significant new medical evidence arose from the inquest to alter that decision. This is a bit thin but, on balance, I think it the right decision.

The significant questions in this case are 1. Did anything else happen to Ian Tomlinson between being pushed over and a short while later collapsing and dying? 2. Did PC Harwoods actions cause Ian Tomlinsons death?

I am happy to let the jury decide.


  1. MTG - your comment has been put in Spam where it belongs. Bugger off!

  2. I'm with you on this but fear that Harwood may struggle to get a fair trial.

    The media coverage of the incident, the furore after the original decision not to prosecute and the inquest itself may well have him already found guilty by public opinion.

    All this could possibly lead to a mistrial and justice not being served.

  3. I wouldn't like to be in Harwood's shoes, facing a jury who have already seen him convicted by media, and convicted undefended by inquest.

    Still with a jury there are always "interesting" results -


  4. I understand the concerns about a fair trial. On balance, I think a jury will put behind them what they have heard and look at the evidence. Juries are notoriously reluctant to convict police officers.
    Tang0 - Yep, every day juries make stupid decisions usually acquitting guilty people, but that is our wonderful justice system. (Rather nine guilty men walk free than one innocent convicted and all that.) The judge knew the score though and gave him 26 years for manslaughter. Even if Harwood is convicted he won't get anything like that.

  5. It might silence the lefties if there is a trial and everything comes out.They honestly believe the CPS and IPCC are friends of the police.
    I have a feeling we as police are going to take a hit on this case.There are thousands of us,millions of interactions every day with the public and thankfully this is a rare event.They are still ranting about Blair Peach from 1979.