Wednesday, 8 April 2009

What if Ian Tomlinson had been protesting?

I flabberghasted at the comments of the Met Police Federation Chair on the Today Programme today. This man seems to have little idea of the law of assault and should be removed from whatever rank he holds as a Police Officer.

Asked about the Guardian footage showing a Police Officer shoving Ian Tomlinson in the back - despite the fact he was not protesting and was walking peacibly away at the time - Peter Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said some physical confrontation was inevitable during a large protest.

He told Radio 4's Today programme: "On a day like that, where there are some protestors who are quite clearly hell-bent on causing as much trouble as they can, there is inevitably going to be some physical confrontation."

He added: "Sometimes it isn't clear, as a police officer, who is a protestor and who is not. I know it's a generalisation but anybody in that part of the town at that time, the assumption would be that they are part of the protest. I accept that's perhaps not a clever assumption but it's a natural one."

Clearly Mr Smyth believes that if Mr Tomlinson were a protestor then the actions of this officer would have been acceptable. Is this really the attitude we expect of Police Officers in response to a peaceful protestor? Just because there is violence elsewhere doesn't mean that the Police can start randomly assaulting people.

David Howarth is quite right - there needs to be a full investigation and consideration of criminal prosecution. In the meantime, the Met must suspend both the officer shown in the video and Peter Smyth - he's not fit to walk the streets.

(Trancript courtesy of BBC News Online)

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