Westside Action

a motley crew of anarchists and activists from Bristol, Bath and South Wales

Archive for ian tomlinson

Why We Don’t Like The Police (and Can’t Stand Coppers)*

The Cardiff 3 -Stephen Miller, Yusef Abdullahi and Anthony Paris

In a recent national-network meeting I recently attended, a young-ish person expressed his puzzlement and his anger at many of his fellow activists hostile attitude to the Police.

A recent newspaper story reminded me where a large part of my antipathy to the Police  – and by extension – to The State grew from. It was an article regarding the case of Neil Hurley, convicted in 1994 and given a  life sentence for the murder of Sharon Pritchard, who was bludgeoned to death and left naked in a playing field near her home in Croeserw, near Maesteg, South Wales. Several witnesses who gave evidence against him at trial subsequently claimed that they were coerced by officers from South Wales Police into making false statements against him. There was no direct or physical evidence linking Hurley to the crime. Despite this, the body supposedly  responsible for ensuring that miscarriage of justices – The Criminal Case Review Commission – have not yet seen fit to review his case. This kind of thing isn’t supposed to happen anymore…

Of course, this brought back memories from the late 1980’s to the late nineties when case-after-case of miscarriages of justices were revealed  –  most infamously the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four – that were eventually “rectified” at the Court of Appeal. For many of those victim to the miscarriages, their conviction may have been overturned but many of them had spent anywhere up to 27 years in prison –  for which there is no possible adequate compensation (not that the financial compensation offered to those was in any way proportionate to their suffering  – and to add insult to injury around 25% of the compensation was normally deducted for “board and accommodation” –  I kid you not).

While it was the West Midlands Crime Squad who became most infamous for their “fitting up” and torture of suspects, South Wales Police, as the case of Neil Hurley demonstrates earned them  an equally bad reputation.

Despite the lack of any direct or physical evidence linking Hurley to the crime, South Wales police saw him as an obvious suspect  – i.e. one that through fabricated evidence would be easy to secure a conviction, due to his previous (alleged) poor character. This is a pattern familiar to anyone with knowledge of the  numerous false convictions that have been revealed in the last couple of decades. The number of people with learning disabilities, or mental illness who were stitched up and used to falsely convict others for high-profile murders is truly disturbing. Previous convictions, normally for minor offences may have also marked you out for a framing. Race and Class were of course also determining factors.

Another case, The Cardiff 3, shows how the Police used people in a vulnerable position to get false convictions.  Over 13 Police Officers (Let’s name the scumbags: Police Constable John Howard Murray, Detective Sergeant Paul Stephen, Detective Constable Paul Jennings, Wayne Pugh, Graham Mouncher, Richard Powell, Thomas Page, Michael Daniels, John Brian Gillard, Peter Greenwood, John Seaford, Rachel O’Brien and Stephen Hicks)  have been summoned to court for the fabrication of evidence used in the Cardiff 3 trial which resulted in Stephen Miller, Yusef Abdullahi and Anthony Paris serving four years for the murder of Lynette White.

However, so far only three people have actually been jailed for perjury which led to the false convictions. They are not coppers, but witnesses who were bullied into making false statements by the Police. There was evidence that one of them, Leanne Vilday had been subject to particular pressure from police who coerced her to give evidence against the Cardiff Three, and that she was threatened with jail, losing custody of her young child, should she fail to give the evidence the filth sought.

Despite the undisputed role of police bullying and intimidation – Gaon Hart, prosecuting, stating in court that “it is clear that the defendants were harassed into lying” – all three witnesses were convicted on the basis that duress was not available as a defence.

In the cases of Birmingham Six, Guildford Four no Police Officers have ever been convicted. We’ll see what will happen with this one, but we won’t be holding our breath.

There are so many things about these cases that makes the blood boil. As with many of the miscarriages that have come to light, the convictions are for some of the most revilled crimes –  both inside and outside prisons. Sexually motivated murders, child murder, bombings of civilians etc. This of course adds to the agony of being in prison for what you have not done – as the rest of the prison population hates you and your family’s home on the outside is a likely target of attack.  Even once freed from prison  –  the Police in these cases, rather than apologise have given ‘off the record’ briefings to the press that they were in fact the right people-  they just didn’t have the evidence to prove it.  – despite what the court of appeal had decided. On release, these people should live a life of unparalleled luxury and happiness. Sadly, this is far from the case.

Take the case of Ellis Hill, one of the “Cardiff Newsagent 3” (not to be confused with Cardiff 3). In 1987, Michael O’Brien, Ellis Sherwood and Darren Hall were wrongly convicted of the murder and robbery of Cardiff newsagent Philip Saunders in 1987.

In 2001, Ellis Hill two years after he was released and a few days before his first daughter Catrin was due to be born, he suffered a stroke.

The stroke was a result of the drug habit he picked up behind bars but has since shed. It has left him with epilepsy, impaired speech, limited use of his right arm and, according to social workers, unable to be trusted to look after his own children in case he suffers a fit.

Neither does he have full control of his compensation money. When South Wales Police paid him a measly £200,000 for his 11 years in prison, the cash was held by the Court of Protection because it was argued the stroke had left him unable to look after his own financial affairs. He now has to apply in writing through solicitors in Cardiff to access any of it. Because of his illness, his partner was told to leave him in day centre. Afterwards, when they were living in Barry, Yvonne was told to leave him at a day centre during the week. For a man who had just been released from prison after 11 years, a day centre was too close to another institution. He didn’t want to go. She didn’t want him to have to. Yet they were dubbed “uncooperative” when they said no.

Of course, some would say these cases are isolated, a quick trawl on the internet would say otherwise.  The culture to cover-up for your colleagues, to issue false statements to the media  about the character of people who have been wrongly jailed,  or even killed by the police (e.g. Ian Tomlinson) is  still widespread. How else would you explain that no British Police Officer has been jailed for the dozens deaths in custody?

No Justice, No Peace…

*A paraphrase of a ‘Rodney P’ Track

The Only Good Policing is No Policing

While any pressure put on the police to behave less violently is to be welcomed, lets remember that they have and always will be used as tinstruments of the state to stop us achieving justice.

This is not to diminish the work that has gone into winning a Judicial Review by Climate Camp and Bindmans into the Policing the G20 but it’ s clear from the both the distant and recent past and that once a social movement is seen as a threat, the state will use what ever means they have to extinguish it.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate’s report was also issued today on Protest Policing, while it did make some criticisms and while we echo the call of The Guardian Frances Wright, which calls for ACPO (responsible for Nectu, FIT, and intense protester harassment) to be abolished, we won’t be happy till they all fuck off.

Meanwhile, in Denmark the Police have been moaning about Climate Justice Action issuing legal guides to the upcoming protests, and especially about advice to give no comment interviews: That seems a pretty good endorsement of the “No Comment” Message.


 

 

See Full Report:
http://inspectorates.homeoffice.gov.uk/hmic/special/adapting-to-protest/

 

MEDIA COVERAGE:

‘Aggressive’ policing of protests condemned in post-G20 inquiry
Senior inspector discredits heavy-handed approach and calls for return to 19th-century style of minimal force
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/nov/25/police-could-lose-public-consent

British policing’s wake-up call
Heavy-handed policing is drifting away from British ‘soft’ tactics
http://www.politics.co.uk/news/policing-and-crime/british-policing-s-wake-up-call-$1342748.htm

Police methods ‘could erode public support’
http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/uk/police+methods+aposcould+erode+public+supportapos/3437497

Police protest training in chaos, report finds
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6931097.ece

Police tactics ‘risking loss of public support’
British police risk losing the support of the public if they confront demonstrators with tactics seen as aggressive and unfair.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8377208.stm


 

Scotland Yard riot squad faces calls to end ‘culture of impunity’

tsg

No Cause For Complaint ?

What a surprise! : Of more than 5,000 complaints against squad, less than 0.18% were upheld

From The Guardian: 6/11/09:

Scotland Yard faced calls for an “ethical audit” of all officers in its controversial riot squad tonight after figures revealed that they had received more than 5,000 complaint allegations, mostly for “oppressive behaviour”.

Details of all allegations lodged against the Metropolitan police territorial support group (TSG) over the last four years reveal that only nine – less than 0.18% – were “substantiated” after an investigation by the force’s complaints department.

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, were described as evidence of a “culture of impunity” that makes it almost impossible for members of the public to lodge successful complaints against the Met’s 730 TSG officers.

The TSG is a specialist squad that responds to outbreaks of disorder anywhere in the capital. It is under investigation for the most high-profile cases of alleged brutality at the G20 protests, including the death of Ian Tomlinson.

The unit came under renewed criticism this week after one of its officers was identified as a member of a team implicated in a “serious, gratuitous and prolonged” attack on a Muslim man.

PC Mark Jones, 42, was one of six officers involved in an attack on Babar Ahmad, 34, who was punched, kicked, stamped on and strangled during his arrest at his home in Tooting, south London. The Met paid Ahmad £60,000 in damages earlier this year and accepted its officers were responsible for the attack, during which Ahmad, a terror suspect, was forced into the Muslim prayer position and told: “Where is your God now? Pray to him.”

A former Royal Marine, Jones has had 31 complaints lodged against him since 1993. Twenty-six were assault allegations, most of which had been lodged by black or Asian men, but none were substantiated.

They included a complaint from a man detained in a drug search in 2007 who, Ahmad’s lawyers told the high court, accused Jones of forcing him into a TSG van, placing him on his knees, grabbing his neck and spraying CS gas into his face.

Despite being identified in court by Ahmad’s lawyers as the officer who placed him in an “extremely dangerous” neck-hold, Jones faced no disciplinary action and returned to duty on Wednesday after being cleared in another case of alleged racially aggravated assault.

The TSG has been the subject of 5,241 allegations since August 2005. They include 376 allegations of discrimination and 977 complaints of “incivility”. More than 1,100 of the allegations concerned what members of the public said were “failures in duty”. However by far the largest number of complaints – 2,280 – were categorised as “oppressive behaviour”.

Just over 2,000 (38%) were “unsubstantiated” by the Met’s department for professional standards, while the rest were resolved at the police station, dismissed, discontinued or dealt with in other ways.

Senior Met officers say the TSG’s work, involving drug raids and demonstrations, means they are more likely to face complaints than other officers.

Jenny Jones, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), the force’s watchdog, said tonight the figures revealed TSG officers were “practically immune” from criticism in the force.

“The fact that less than 0.2% of complaints about the TSG succeed, suggest its officers are protected within the Met to the extent that there is a culture of impunity for their actions,” she said. “It’s time for an ethical audit and a thorough overhaul. They desperately need better training, rotation of personnel, and reduction of duties to make them fit for purpose.”

Fiona Murphy, Ahmad’s solicitor, said: “The figures either mean thousands of members of the public are taking the trouble to make fabricated complaints against the TSG, which seems unlikely, or there is a systemic problem with the complaints procedure that means it is virtually impossible for officers in the unit to be held to account for their actions.”

A high court order prevented identification of Jones as an officer involved in the Ahmad assault until the end of his separate criminal trial. On Tuesday jurors at Kingston crown court cleared Jones of racially and physically attacking two 16-year-old boys in a police van in June 2007.

The teenagers said they were racially taunted in front a team of TSG officers who had stopped them near Edgware Road, west London. One of the teenagers said Jones punched him several times in the head and placed him in a neck-hold while calling him an “Arab cunt”.

 

697-domestic-extremists-lg

from schnews

Good Analysis of Liberal Press’  questionable coverage of recent Police Brutality:

also check: http://www.schnews.org.uk/archive/news697.php

Kingsnorth Police Report: Poor Handwriting Slammed

You may have thought that unjustified stop and searches, assaults and raids may have been the focus of the report. But apparently, the fact that some Officers have ineligable handwriting is, as Emily Apple of Fitwatch and now the Guardian (!) says in her article (below) is  apparently of more concern than, for instance,  the fact that her and Val Swain were brutally arrested and then remanded for 3 days, only later to have their charges dropped.

Emily Apple (Guardian Article) :

The soundbites sound good. A report into the policing of Kingsnorth has stated the use of blanket stop and search powers were “disproportionate and counterproductive” and show a failed command structure displaying incompetent leadership and poor communication.

However, the motivation behind these findings needs to be examined. The report is not concerned with the rights of protesters but protecting the integrity of the police force. Yes, the searches were criticised, but not for the right reasons. Instead of finding the searches contravened civil liberties, the report worries about the effect a judicial review might have on the force, stating they were “counterproductive” because of “organisational vulnerability through legal challenge”. Instead of using the opportunity to condemn the blanket use of section 1 stop and searches as an abuse of civil liberties, even more draconian legislation is called for asking for further powers, presumably to counteract the effects of any pesky judicial interference.

None of the civil liberties concerns raised by activists and politicians in relation to the camp are addressed. In fact, the report praises the police for meeting one of their key objectives of “facilitating peaceful protest”, which is simply not true. Facilitating protest must include adherence to all human rights law, including the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. Stating that, during a protest which extended over several days, the police facilitated one march at the end of the week ignores all the civil liberties abuses which took place at the camp itself.

While no mention is made of the use of excessive violence by officers using batons strikes against peaceful protesters, the handwriting of officers is criticised, with fewer than 25% of all forms legible. However, instead of criticising the need for 8,000-plus searches, the report laments the fact there weren’t more details to put onto the police database. The fact details of thousands of protesters has been entered into a database is not examined, nor is the admission this information is disseminated to the Forward Intelligence Teams (Fits), and that people should not give the police personal details if they do not want to end up on such a database.

Meanwhile, another report commissioned by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), has not been released, even to the IPCC. The findings were seemingly not to the liking of senior police officers, who ordered this current report to be written instead. Despite promises by the policing minister, David Hanson, to publish the original report, this has not been done, and we are left with a report which is hostile to demonstrators and repressive in tone.

The recommendations of the HMIC report to move towards a less confrontational model of policing will never be achieved unless the attitude of the police changes towards demonstrators. However, the biggest test for all the reports will be seen on the streets over the next couple of months. Climate Camp is returning to London in August, while in September activists return to the City for a mass protest against the DSEi arms fair.

It is clear from this report, and from examples such as the suggestion, made by City of London police during a meeting with the family of Ian Tomlinson and the IPCC, that Tomlinson might have been attacked by a protester “dressed in police uniform”, that the mindset of the police has not altered. It is important they are held to account on the streets, and anyone who has any concerns over the policing of protests and civil liberties should attend these events to monitor and challenge this policing for themselves.

Politically Timed “Terror” Arrests – the Real Bob Quick Scandal by Craig Murray

“A police state is not a state where the police rule. It is a state where there is no distance between the politicians and police. A police state is a state where a policeman can be caught on camera launching an unprovoked fatal assault from behind, yet not be arrested. A police state is a state where the police raid the parliamentary offices of opposition MPs. A police state is a state where it is the politicians who are making the decisions on who gets arrested and when.”

The mainstream media is in a flurry of excitement over the “Terror” arrests of students in the North West of England. Linked to this is the media feeding frenzy over the resignation of Bob Quick, Scotland Yard’s anti-terror chief. It is important to note that the Quick incident only brought forward the arrests by a few hours.

Yet in all the acres of coverage in the newspapers, and all the hype on TV, nobody seems to have noticed the real story. It was an accident that Bob Quick had his secret document on display as he was photographed entering Downing St. But it was no accident that he was photographed entering Downing Street. No 10 is a Tardis-like building which is far more impressive inside than out, and which seems impossibly large. Its secret is that it links straight through to No 11 and, more importantly, through to the huge Cabinet Office building that runs along Whitehall. The Cabinet Office is the central secretariat of the British government and in effect the office of the Prime Minister. The separation of the No 10 staff and the Cabinet Office staff is a polite fiction.

The government’s major interdepartmental committees meet in the Cabinet Office, including the sexy Joint Intelligence Committee and its sub-committees. One of the fascinating things about the vast Cabinet Office building is that it incorporates parts of the original fabric of the Tudor Whitehall Palace. In the first Iraq War I used to hand carry intelligence reports to No 10, and sometimes had to explain them personally to Mrs Thatcher. I never once took one in the front door. In fact I have only ever walked in the front door of No 10 when accompanying a foreign dignitary or attending a party. The front door is for people the government wants to be seen – hence the permanent stand of photographers which captured Bob Quick. People arriving to brief on secret matters go in through the back door, or more likely through the Cabinet Office. So why did the government want us to see that Bob Quick was entering No 10? The only possible answer is that, had things gone more smoothly in the arrest of the “Terror suspects”, the government would have paraded the footage of Quick entering no 10 as evidence that it was really Glorious Gordon and Genius Jacqui who had directed the operation and saved the world – again.

It is very, very wrong – it violates the whole spirit of the constitution – for politicians to be involved in arresting people. If the police had real evidence that these people are terrorists, then of course they should have been arrested when the Police felt the right moment had come. That moment is when they have sufficient evidence, and are not putting the public at risk by undue delay. That is a technical decision requiring skill, expertise and experience in operational policing. It is a matter of the criminal law. It is absolutely not the business of Jacqui Smith and Gordon Brown. But we know that under New Labour the politicians are deciding who should be arrested and when. We know that for sure because then Home Secretary John Reid said in terms that he decided when the arrests should be made in the farcical “Bigger than 9/11”, (though in the event non-existent), “Liquid airplane bomb plot” case. If politicians are going to decide the timing of arrests, then they cannot be surprised or aggrieved if we suspect that the timing of arrests is political. This was definitely the case in the “Liquid Bomb Plot”. I know for certain from my own sources that in that case the intelligence services believed they had been forced by politicians to act too soon. That was quite widely reported at the time. The view that John Reid had acted too early appears proved by a complex series of verdicts brought in by the jury. Less than half of those arrested actually were brought to trial. The jury found that three of the accused did have an intention to commit terror, but had formed no definite plan and specifically cleared them of the charge of planning to down aeroplanes with explosives. Why had Reid jumped the gun? Because the Americans asked him to. With Bob Quick’s predecessor, the disgraced Andy Hayman, giving an official Scotland Yard view that the “Liquid Bomb Plot” was “Bigger than 9/11” and involved plans to fly up to a dozen passenger jets simultaneously into different US cities, the resulting worldwide front page headlines were a Godsend for Bush in mid-term elections. They also enable the government to permanently ramp up the fear factor by the ludicrous toothpaste and shampoo searches that make flying so miserable. In the liquid bomb plot do you remember the massive banner headlines – the full front page of every single tabloid in the UK -about the evil Muslim mother who planned to blow up herself and her baby along with the plane? There was no media reporting at all when she was cleared and released.

The “Suspicious chemical” which police announced they had found in baby bottles was, errr, baby bottle sterilising solution. The reasons why these “Terror raids” might be the subject of political timing could not be more obvious. Both Jacqui Smith and Gordon Brown were getting a well-deserved media pasting over the outrageous ripping off of the taxpayer for personal benefit through expense claims. The Metropolitan Police were under extreme criticism for their unprovoked killing of Ian Tomlinson. So this morning, instead of the news headline being the disgraceful fact that the policeman who launched an unprovoked assault from behind on Ian Tomlinson has still not been arrested, the headline is that the police have saved us all from certain death. Let me be plain. I am not saying that terrorism does not exist. I am not saying that those arrested are innocent. I do not know. I am saying that Brown and Smith’s involvement in operational police arrests, and the fact that less than 1% of those arrested under anti-terror legislation in the UK have ever been charged with anything connected to terrorism, gives me the right to be suspicious of what is undeniably, at the very least, politically very fortuitous timing. It is also the arrest of alleged terrorists from Pakistan, at a time when the government is under both parliamentary and criminal investigation for participation in torture of terrorist suspects in Pakistan. The government has responded by arguing that intelligence from torture abroad is necessary to save lives in the UK. I have no doubt that we will find the government arguing that this “terror plot” justifies their case.

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2009/03/fco_finally_adm.html Because of this suspicion, I will be setting a high test for evidence that these arrests really were needed at this time. The accusation is that a bombing campaign was ready for this Easter – ie now. If that is true, there must be explosives and detonators ready, or in the very final stages of preparation. We will see. According to Sky News this morning, police searches so far have discovered photographs of leading buildings in Manchester taken by the students. I studied Russian in St Petersburg. I have photographs I took of the Hermitage, of the Church on the Holy Blood, of the St Peter and Paul Fortress, of the bridges over the Neva, of the ornate underground stations. I studied Polish in Lublin. I have photographs of Lublin castle, of the main shopping street, of the Catholic University of Lublin… I have, in fact, photographs of prominent buildings everywhere I ever studied. And photographis in bars and nightclubs. Why do the police feel the need to feed out to the media the complete non-news of the non-evidence that they have discovered photographs of Manchester in Manchester? Why was it necessary for the Prime Minister to make a statement announcing the arrests? What does that do to the chances of a fair trial? Why was it never necessary to make a prime ministerial statement every time a suspected Irish terrorist – and remember they really did blow up the Arndale Centre in Manchester – was arrested?

There are many genuine and diligent people carrying out counter-terrorism work in the police and intelligence services, working the old-fashioned way with painstaking accumulation of evidence. They do save lives and they should be applauded and supported. They should be free from political interference and distanced from politicians. They may have foiled a genuine plot here. If so they must be congratulated. The Home Secretary –who has not foiled any plots – should have been briefed after arrests were made, and there should be no room for suspicion that politicians had interfered. That would have stuck to the cardinal rule of only telling people who actually have to know about an operation – and the rule of not carting around secret documents for no purpose. The photo leak – which could indeed have jeopardised a security operation which may or may not prove to have been vital – was caused directly by the excessive and completely unnecessary involvement of the politicians in policing detail. A police state is not a state where the police rule. It is a state where there is no distance between the politicians and police. A police state is a state where a policeman can be caught on camera launching an unprovoked fatal assault from behind, yet not be arrested. A police state is a state where the police raid the parliamentary offices of opposition MPs. A police state is a state where it is the politicians who are making the decisions on who gets arrested and when. Craig Murray – Homepage: http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2009/04/politically_tim.html

video evidence of police assault on ian tomlinson

Ian Tomlinson's Widow, and Son, Paul. They Want answers

Ian Tomlinson's Widow, and Son, Paul. They Want answers

Click: Video:

Of course, this must just be a mirage, as the the Police said that they didn’t assault him, and they were being pelted with bottles.

Witnesses Statement: Death at G20

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Various participants in the City of London demonstrations on April 1st have come forward as witnesses to the collapse of a man later identified by authorities as Ian Tomlinson. Four different university students witnessed the collapse of Mr. Tomlinson. “He stumbled towards us from the direction of police and protestors and collapsed,” said Peter Apps. “I saw a demonstrator who was a first aider attend to the person who had collapsed. The man was late 40s, had tattoos on his hands, and was wearing a Millwall shirt.”

While the first aider was helping the man, another demonstrator with a megaphone was calling the police over so that they could help.

Natalie Langford, a student at Queen Mary, said “there was a police charge. A lot of people ran in our direction. The woman giving first aid stood in the path of the crowd.” The running people, seeing a guy on the ground, went around them.

Another demonstrator had already called 999 and was getting medical advice from the ambulance dispatcher. “Four police with two police medics came. They told her [the first aider] to ‘move along’.”, said Peter Apps. “Then they pushed her forcibly away from him. They refused to listen to her [the first aider] when she tried to explain his condition.”

The first aider, who did not wish to be named, said “The police surrounded the collapsed man. I was standing with the person who’d called 999. The ambulance dispatcher wanted to talk to the police, the phone was being held out to them, but the police refused.”

Another witness, Elias Stoakes, added “we didn’t see them [the police] perform CPR.”

Other people who had tried to stay with the collapsed man were also pushed away.

All of the witnesses deny the allegation that many missiles were thrown.

According to Peter Apps, “one bottle was thrown, but it didn’t come close to the police. Nothing was thrown afterwards as other demonstrators told the person to stop. The person who threw the bottle probably didn’t realize that someone was behind the ring of police.” All the witnesses said that the demonstrators were concerned for the well-being of the collapsed man once they realized that there was an injured person.

Natalie Langford said “when the ambulance arrived the protestors got straight out of the way.”

These witnesses are happy to give media statements.

They can be contacted through this press liasion email: g20witnesses@gmail.com

See video of two of the witnesses giving their statement: full interview | early clip

Statement in German

Email Contact email: g20witnesses@gmail.com