‘We welcome today’s decision to bring a charge of manslaughter against the officer,’ said newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson’s stepson Paul King on behalf of the family yesterday.
He was speaking outside the Crown Prosecution Service office in Southwark, southeast London after a press conference by the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC.
Paul King continued to read out a short statement: ‘We believe this is the right decision. What we have always wanted is to achieve justice for Ian and to show that police officers are not above the law.’
DPP Starmer had announced that Met police officer PC Simon Harwood will face criminal proceedings on a charge of manslaughter over the death of Ian Tomlinson on June 20 at City of Westminster magistrates court.
On May 3rd, Starmer QC had said he would launch a quick and ‘thorough’ review of his decision not to prosecute after an inquest jury unanimously ruled earlier this month that the newspaper seller was unlawfully killed at the G20 protests.
Ian Tomlinson collapsed and died on the fringes of the G20 demonstrations in central London on April 1st, 2009, after suffering an internal bleed as a result of the officer’s ‘excessive and unreasonable’ force, the inquest jury found.
Paul King added to reporters’ questions that the family was ‘really happy’.
He said: ‘We are a big step closer to where we want to be. We should have been here two years ago but we are here now and we are more than happy.’
DPP Starmer said in a statement: ‘The difficulty facing any prosecution in relation to the death of Mr Tomlinson lies in the conflicting medical evidence about the cause of death. That difficulty remains.’
He added: ‘However, matters have moved on in two ways since the original decision was taken in this case.
‘First, new medical evidence was presented at the inquest.
‘Second, the various accounts and opinions given by the medical experts, including Dr Patel, were tested in extensive questioning at the inquest; this has changed the basis upon which the case falls to be considered.
‘But for the inquest, the significant conflicts in the evidence that had previously existed could not have been addressed; and the inquest process, which is less confined than a criminal trial, has allowed a degree of clarity to emerge.
‘We have considered the new evidence adduced at the inquest and the final positions adopted by the medical experts very carefully indeed. We have also taken the advice of leading counsel, Mr Tim Owen QC, on the critical medical issues that remain.
‘Having done so, we are satisfied that the position in relation to the medical evidence about the cause of death has clearly changed.
‘The difficulties that would now confront any prosecution have changed in nature and scale from last year when a decision was taken not to prosecute, although it is clear that real difficulties remain.
‘Taking the evidence as it now stands, we have concluded that, even with those remaining difficulties, there is now sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of successfully prosecuting PC Simon Harwood for the manslaughter of Mr Tomlinson.
‘That being the case, it is clearly in the public interest that criminal proceedings be brought.’