UK & World News
G20 Death: Family Condemns 'Whitewash'
The policeman who struck newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson minutes before he died at the G20 protests in London has been thrown out of the force and told he should never serve as a police officer again.
Simon Harwood admitted, on the first day of a disciplinary hearing into his conduct, that he used "unnecessary force" when he first hit Mr Tomlinson with a baton and then shoved him to the ground at the Royal Exchange Buildings in the City of London on April 1, 2009.
The Tomlinson family has accused the Metropolitan Police of a "whitewash" for simply accepting that admission and not holding a more wide-ranging hearing into whether the actions of the officer directly contributed to the 47-year-old's death.
Simon Harwood was found not guilty of Ian Tomlinson's manslaughter at a criminal trial in south London in July this year.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission had insisted the Metropolitan Police hold the subsequent disciplinary hearing for PC Harwood in public.
The family said they were told that hearing, before a panel of two senior police officers and a lay person, would last up to four weeks and would look in detail at whether Simon Harwood's actions were an inadvertent contributory factor in Mr Tomlinson's death.
Instead, the hearing lasted just half a day, after the officer's legal spokesman Patrick Gibbs QC said he accepted his actions amounted to "gross misconduct".
He said: "If he (Harwood) had known then what he knows now about the circumstances, everybody's movements and Mr Tomlinson's health, he would have used no force, let alone the force that he did use."
The 45-year-old also accepted that his actions and the way they were reported had brought discredit on the Metropolitan Police, and that this amounted to gross misconduct.
The panel found he had indeed breached standards over discreditable conduct, use of force and authority, respect and courtesy, and that this should be counted as gross misconduct.
The officer was sacked with immediate effect.
Mr Tomlinson, an alcoholic who had lived rough for several years, managed to walk 75 yards after he was hit and pushed, but collapsed and later died from internal injuries.
His stepson Paul King said the family had been denied the chance to get to the truth.
He said: "I think it's pointless, it hasn't proved anything to us. We still haven't got any answer from this."
"After three-and-a-half years, I think it's diabolical. It's like we're back at day one."
The hearing was told that Harwood had twice offered to resign from the Met in the wake of the death, because he thought it was "the right thing to do".
Mr Gibbs said: "He has described again and again the huge gap between what he understood at the time and thought he was doing at the time, and what he now realises was the case.
"He had no way of knowing at the time what Mr Tomlinson's level of intoxication was and all of the medical difficulties before that time."
The father-of-nine's widow, Julia, and his two stepsons walked out of the hearing room saying "whitewash" as Mr Gibbs addressed the panel.
This is the first time that a police disciplinary hearing has been held in public by the Met.
Harwood has a controversial police disciplinary record, but this was not considered as part of the hearing because the accusations are more than two years old.
A number of allegations were made against Harwood over a 12-year period and he was allowed to retire from the Met on medical grounds in 2001 despite unresolved disciplinary proceedings.
He was accused of unlawful arrest, abuse of authority and discreditable conduct over an incident when he allegedly shouted at another driver and knocked him over his car door, before announcing that he was a police officer and arresting the motorist on a common assault charge.
But the proceedings were discontinued when he retired.
Later, Harwood rejoined the force as a civilian worker before becoming a police officer for Surrey.
He was then allowed to rejoin the Met in 2004 as part of its territorial support group (TSG), specialising in public order.
After he was acquitted of manslaughter the Independent Police Complaints Commission said his case raised "grave concerns" about Met vetting procedures.
The force admitted that proper checks had not been made, but said processes had since changed.