Ian Tomlinson Death Inquest: Simon Harwood Is Here To Help The Family
ONLY the Guardian leads with the inquest into the death of Ian Tomlinson. Its front-page headline tells us:
“Officer who shoved Tomlinson at G20 protests: ‘I feared for my life.”
The officer is PC Simon Harwood, part of the Met’s specialist Territorial Support Group. Mr Harwood is on trial. Indeed, the coroner Peter Thornton reminded him that he was under no obligation:
“I’m sure that you know, and no doubt will have been advised, that you are not obliged to answer any question tending to incriminate you. It may well be that I shall repeat that warning to you later.”
The family of Mr Tomlinson is sat in the public gallery at the International Dispute Resolution Centre in Fleet Street. Harwood begins by saying that he is “here to help the family“.
“I’m very aware of that. I’m here as a witness to help with the inquest and also to give some sort of answers to help the family. So I’m here to answer questions, just to help.”
The Guardian’s David Sharrock and Paul Lewis hear “snorts of derision in the public gallery”. Mr Tomlinson’s son, Paul King leaves. He is soon followed by Tomlinson’s widow, Julia. Then several “tearful members of the family” leave.
Alison Hewitt, counsel for the inquest, wants to ascertain what happened in the moments leading up Harwood encountering Tomlinson.
Harwood recalls seeing a figure apparently writing on a police van. He says he made to arrest the man.
“I saw a male in dark clothing bending down facing the offside of the police carrier … I could see by the actions of his arm that he was writing something on the body work of the vehicle…
“I felt it was done right in front of me, so close to my position, I believed it was my duty to go and take some course of action towards this male.”
Other protestors saw him with the man and approached.
There was a “large gasp” from the crowd as the suspect he was holding collided with the door of a police van. Footage showed him leading the man further away from the vans with the crowd surging behind him.
“At the time, because he was becoming more aggressive, more hostile, I was starting to believe that this was getting out of control. I was aware there was a very hostile crowd and I was actually in fear for my life then from what was coming towards me.”
And what of the general attitude of police at the demo? Harwood says:
“There was a general feeling that it would be robust policing, not just going and picking on people, but robust as in keeping the demonstration where it should be.”
The air as thick. But how did Mr Tomlinson come to be pushed? The Express writes:
The inquest has seen video footage of PC Harwood striking Mr Tomlinson with a baton before pushing him. Mr Tomlinson is seen turning away from a line of officers with his hands in his pockets before he is shoved in the back.
The inquest continues.