Police ‘ignored warnings’ that tactics will kill

Authorities were warned three months before the death of Ian Tomlinson that someone would be killed if a wave of savage attacks by police on demonstrators was allowed to continue, the Morning Star can reveal.

Orchestrated brutality by masked and unidentified police officers has been more and more common in recent years, causing campaigners to question whether such incidents of violence and the attempts to cover them up are at least tacitly approved of by senior ranking officers.

On January 3 this year, several thousand protesters on a march organised by the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) were on their way to the Israeli embassy in London when they were herded into an underpass at Hyde Park and baton-charged by riot squad officers.

So severe was the attack that organisers said it was amazing no-one was killed.

As a result of the incident, the StWC wrote to police and the Home Office warning them that such tactics would lead to people being killed.

This month, the veracity of this claim was proven in graphic fashion with the tragic death of Mr Tomlinson moments after he was assaulted by a balaclava-wearing, un-numbered police officer at the G20 protests.

StWC national officer Chris Nineham insisted on Sunday that Mr Tomlinson’s death was not – as the authorities are attempting to paint it – an isolated incident but the “inevitable result of a wave of police brutality” that began during the anti-Bush demonstrations of 2007.

Mr Nineham added that the results of a second post-mortem on Mr Tomlinson, which revealed that he had died of internal bleeding and not a heart attack as originally claimed, “makes a mockery of all police statements about this incident and increases the likelihood that Ian Tomlinson’s death was the result of a police attack.”

He explained: “On January 3, we organised a demonstration about the ongoing situation in Gaza. Between 5,000 and 7,000 people were marching to the Israeli embassy when the police corralled us into an underpass at Hyde Park.

“Three or four columns of riot police then repeatedly charged us and savagely attacked demonstrators. It was absolutely terrifying, we all thought someone was going to die. It was a totally unprovoked and vicious attack.

“We officially complained to the police and the Home Office. We told the authorities that the police were going to kill someone and now that appears to have happened.”

Much has been made of the practice of officers removing or concealing their identifying numbers during protests. This is far from a new or isolated development, said Mr Nineham.

“We have seen it many, many times before on different protests.

“There seem to be two official responses. One is to say that senior and middle-ranking officers are not obliged to wear a number and second that it is the work of one or two bad apples.

“Even if it was one or two officers, they would not be able to do it without the implicit support of senior officers. Clearly, at the very least, this is an accepted procedure,” he stormed.

Copyright Morning Star