G20 Police Constable admits gross misconduct

9 September 2013

The hearing was told that PC Simon Harwood, who has been suspended, had twice offered to resign from the Metropolitan Police over the incident, however an officer who is suspended can only leave the Force with the approval of the Deputy Commissioner. Ian Tomlinson died on the day of the G20 protests in London when he was hit with a baton by Harwood and pushed to the ground before dying minutes later of internal bleeding. An Inquest in May determined that he had been unlawfully killed. A jury at Southwark Crown Court acquitted him of manslaughter. 

Following Harwood's acquittal the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) decided that Harwood should face a public disciplinary hearing, the first time this decision had been made for an internal Metropolitan Police hearing. 

Patrick Gibbs QC, representing Harwood, told the hearing "PC Harwood does indeed accept that the discredit which his actions and the way in which they have been reported has brought upon the Metropolitan Police Service amounts to gross misconduct. If he had known then what he now knows 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." 

However the panel decided it would not consider whether or not Harwood's actions caused or contributed to Mr Tomlinson's death in 2009. Mr Tomlinson's family left the hearing saying that it was a 'whitewash'. Mr Tomlinson's family say they will be pursuing the case in a civil court. 

During the criminal proceedings Harwood denied manslaughter on the grounds that he had used reasonable force although during the trial he had accepted that he was 'wrong' to have hit and pushed Mr Tomlinson. 

It has also emerged that Harwood has previously faced a number of allegations, including unlawful arrest, abuse of authority and discreditable conduct having been involved in what was referred to at the Inquest as a 'road rage' incident while he was off duty. On that occasion he was allowed to retire on medical grounds in 2001 prior to any disciplinary hearing taking place. However in 2004 he re-joined the Metropolitan Police as part of a specialist group dealing with public order. In allowing him to do so it the Metropolitan Police had considered the previous 'road rage' incident but had not reviewed the full file. 

It seems that the next chapter of this unfortunate tale is to be fought out in the civil courts. It is unfortunate that a jury deciding a verdict at the Crown Court does not give any explanation for the verdict that they reach. Whilst a Magistrate has to give reasons for their verdict, at the Crown Court a jury does not. However the burden of proof in the criminal court is far higher than that of the civil court. In relation to criminal matters a jury has to be 'satisfied so that it is sure' of a person's guilt whereas in the civil courts blame is apportioned on 'the balance of probabilities'. 

Harwood has now been sacked with immediate effect.