Independent : Third allegation of police brutality at G20 investigated

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Third allegation of police brutality at G20 investigated

London demonstrator claims he was hit on the head and pushed near scene of Ian Tomlinson's death

By Emily Dugan | April 19, 2009

A third investigation into an allegation of police brutality at the G20 protests was launched yesterday by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). A 23-year-old man from London claimed he was hit on the head and pushed to the ground the same day that Ian Tomlinson died following an attack by police.

The incident, which was referred to the IPCC by the Metropolitan Police, is understood to have taken place between 6 and 7pm on 1 April, at a police cordon on Cornhill in the City of London. The news came as the watchdog investigates the police's role in the death of Mr Tomlinson and an assault on demonstrator Nicola Fisher on 2 April. The IPCC says it has now received at least 185 complaints about police at the G20 protests, of which just under 90 are about the use of force.

The police officer caught on film attacking Mr Tomlinson moments before he died has now been interviewed on suspicion of manslaughter after a second post-mortem found the newspaper seller died from abdominal bleeding rather than a heart attack.

The news comes as police face growing criticism from politicians and campaigners for their handling of the G20 protests. Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said yesterday that the party was calling for a full inquiry into policing of the protests, especially the tactics of the controversial riot policing unit, the Territorial Support Group (TSG). "It may be necessary to look more widely at the TSG and see whether it's appropriate for it to be so separate," he said. "There's a clear problem of discipline in this part of the Met which the commissioner needs to address urgently.

"It's very worrying that there have been repeated instances with officers not wearing identifying numerals. This is exactly the problem we had many years ago with the Special Patrol Group, which was exactly why it was disbanded."

Protesters warned that this year's May Day actions could be some of the most dramatic yet. The United Campaign Against Police Violence, a coalition of protest groups, formed in the wake of the G20 protests, met yesterday to discuss action. Chris Knight, a founding member, said: "We may feel the need to kettle a police station. We'd surround them completely and not let them in and out for 12 hours. We're trying to stop London on May Day in memory of all who died in police custody. If police officers haven't got the message at that stage, we may have to take it into our own hands."

Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition said: "I wouldn't be surprised if there were more people this year. People are disgusted over the policing of G20, and I think there's growing anger at the way the police are behaving in general." Tony Benn, who will be speaking at the May Day rally in Trafalgar Square, said: "I dare say it will be bigger this year because of everything that's happened."

Hundreds of demonstrators, including some dressed as the horsemen of the apocalypse, gathered outside the City of London police headquarters yesterday morning in protest at the police tactics used on 1 and 2 April.

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said that a root-and-branch review of policing is needed. "Things have come together at a particular moment and out of tragedy sometimes comes opportunity. We have got to make sure Mr Tomlinson did not die in vain. We're talking about a much broader culture of how the police deal with protests. There have been problems for some time but the G20 has highlighted it all."