Today’s decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions not to bring any criminal charges over the death of Ian Tomlinson follows a line of previous decisions when police conduct has resulted in death or serious injury and no charges were brought.
Ian Tomlinson died on 1 April 2009 in the context of a heavily-policed and high profile demonstration that generated significant public interest. The failure of the Independent Police Complaints Commission to initiate an independent investigation until seven days after the death, on 8 April 2009, led to the potential for the loss, suppression and/or distortion of crucial forensic evidence in the ‘golden hours’ following Mr Tomlinson’s death. This repeats a pattern in previous contentious deaths following police contact where the death has not been treated from the outset as a potential homicide. INQUEST believes there should be an inquiry into the role of the City of London Police, the coroner, the pathologist and the IPCC, who have all played a part in ensuring no charges were able to be brought.
Responding to the decision, Ian Tomlinson’s son Paul King said,
“After 16 months of waiting, to hear nothing is being done is a complete joke. Today they gave us no hope. This experience has broken our family apart. The DPP has told us there was an unlawful act, yet no charges are to be brought. This is no justice – everyone has failed us.”
Deborah Coles, Co-Director of INQUEST, said:
“The eyes of the world will be looking on with incredulity as yet again a police officer is not facing any criminal charges after what is one of the most clear-cut and graphic examples of police violence that has led to death. This decision is a shameful indictment of the way police criminality is investigated and demonstrates a culture of impunity when police officers break the law. It follows a pattern of cases that reveal an unwillingness to treat deaths arising from the use of force by police as potential homicides. It demonstrates yet again the flawed procedures that follow contentious deaths involving the police and stands as testament to their unaccountability.”
The family’s solicitor, Jules Carey, said:
“The CPS decision is a disgrace. They have accepted the officer’s conduct is unlawful, but have determined not to prosecute him for anything. We shall examine this decision and challenge it if possible. There must be an inquiry into whether the failure to charge is a lack of competence or of will.”
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