Monday, May 9, 2011


"The IPCC's job is to provide a professional, independent and accountable check on police actions. It does its best with limited resources. But it did not respond effectively enough when the Tomlinson case occurred. Now, two years on, it still seems unable to see the wood for the trees or to get to the heart of this crucial case."


REMINDER: EXECUTION BY FIRE Friday, May 13, 10PM (9PM Manitoba/Sask.)

(In 1991 three little girls died in a fire that gutted their home in a small Texas town. Sympathy turned to rage when their father was charged with murder by arson. After a thirteen-year battle to prove his innocence and despite new evidence casting doubt over the conviction, Todd Willingham was executed by lethal injection in 2004. Since Willingham’s death, leading fire scientists have challenged the underpinnings of the case, concluding it was an accidental fire. Today, Willingham’s family is still battling to clear his name and for the first time Texas may be forced to admit to executing an innocent man. Another documentary by renowned Canadian journalist Julian Sher. “What can be more crushing than the nightmare of losing your child,” asks Sher. “And then the nightmare gets unimaginably worse when the police accuse you of the murder and you know you’re innocent? These were compelling human dramas and trials that grabbed the headlines. We tried to look at the toll these cases took not only on the accused but also on their families—their loved ones, the other children. It’s also about how communities turn against the guilty suspect in our midst – how we are all guilty of jumping to conclusions.”)


A thorough account of "The death of Ian Tomlinson" can be found on Wikipedia at:


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: If Dr. Freddy Patel had the last word, a 47-year-old newspaper vendor named Ian Tomlinson's death after he collapsed on the pavement on the fringes of protests at the G20 on April 1, 2009 would have been written off as "natural causes." However amateur video footage emerged showing him being pushed to the ground by a police officer who faces misconduct proceedings after an inquest beginning in March 2011 is completed. As noted on Wikipedia: "Ian Tomlinson (7 February 1962 – 1 April 2009) was an English newspaper vendor who collapsed and died in the City of London on his way home from work during the 2009 G-20 summit protests. A first postmortem examination indicated that he had suffered a heart attack brought on by coronary artery disease, and had died of natural causes. His death became controversial a week later when The Guardian obtained footage of his last moments, filmed by an American investment fund manager who was visiting London. The video showed Tomlinson being struck on the leg from behind by a police officer wielding an extendable baton, then pushed to the ground by the same officer. It appeared to show no provocation on Tomlinson's part—he was not a protester, and at the time he was struck, the footage showed him walking along with his hands in his pockets. He walked away after the incident, but collapsed and died moments later. After The Guardian published the video, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) began a criminal inquiry. A second postmortem indicated that Tomlinson had died from internal bleeding caused by a blunt force trauma to the abdomen, in association with cirrhosis of the liver. A third postmortem was arranged by the defence team of the accused officer, PC Simon Harwood; the third pathologist agreed that the cause of death was internal bleeding. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced in July 2010 that no charges would be brought, because medical disagreement about the cause of the death meant prosecutors could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a causal link between the death and the alleged assault. The first pathologist, Dr Freddy Patel, was suspended for three months in August 2010 for "deficient professional performance" in several unrelated cases." As the Guardian reported on March 19, 2011, Patel, who had been previously suspended for incompetence in a series of high profile autopsies, was found guilty of professional misconduct after failing to spot that a murder victim had been suffocated. He now faces being struck off the medical register.
A disciplinary panel of the General Medical Council ruled that his "fitness to practise was impaired" because of his reluctance to consider asphyxiation in the murder case, the falsification of his professional CV, and his failure to redress previous professional shortcomings. The UK Press Association says that the inquest, "is likely to examine the actions of police, the pathologist, the coroner and independent investigators in the aftermath of Mr Tomlinson's death." The Goudge Inquiry into many of former Dr. Charles Smith's cases also examined relationships between pathologists and police - particularly a case in which Smith agreed to interview a woman, suspected of murdering her baby, at her home while fully aware that the home had been secretly bugged by the authorities.



"The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) yesterday published three reports. One was into the death of Ian Tomlinson, in April 2009, a second looked at the police media handling of the case, while the third was a particularly critical one on the police evidence to pathologists," the Guardian editorial published on May 10, 2011 begins, under the heading, "Ian Tomlinson death: Thoroughly disappointing: The failure to act promptly on the three officers' evidence prompts serious questions for the City force and the IPCC."

"The reports are detailed. The main one is a thorough piece of work, running to 98 pages. But it is not thorough enough," the editorial continues.

"Here's why. The Guardian reported yesterday that, two days after Mr Tomlinson's death, three Metropolitan police officers reported to their superiors that they had seen a colleague push Mr Tomlinson to the ground. The Met police passed the officers' information to the City of London force, which polices the Square Mile where Mr Tomlinson died and which was responsible for the initial 2009 investigation.

Yet the City police do not appear to have told the IPCC, or the pathologist who was due to examine Mr Tomlinson, or the coroner or, not least, Mr Tomlinson's family any of this. All this happened four days before the Guardian released video footage of the officer striking Mr Tomlinson. It was only then that the Tomlinson investigation went up a gear, setting in train a sequence of events that produced last week's unlawful killing inquest verdict, a new referral to the director of public prosecutions and, yesterday, the release of the IPCC report.

It is, of course, possible that justice will eventually be done to Mr Tomlinson in spite of the initial failures of response. Yet the failure to act promptly on the three officers' evidence prompts serious questions for the City force and the IPCC. The death of any citizen during a police public order operation is a matter of the highest seriousness. Yet the response was slow and not proportionate to the potential and, as it later turned out, the actual importance of the case. Why did the City force not raise its game as soon as the three Met officers' reports were known? Why did the IPCC not start its investigation immediately as it learned of Mr Tomlinson's death on 1 April, or on 3 April when it learned that members of the public saw the pushing incident, or on 5 April when the Observer published the first photographs of the police assault? Why, if the IPCC now knew about the three police witnesses when it finally took over the investigation on 8 April, has it released a report more than two years later which fails to acknowledge their evidence at all?

The IPCC's job is to provide a professional, independent and accountable check on police actions. It does its best with limited resources. But it did not respond effectively enough when the Tomlinson case occurred. Now, two years on, it still seems unable to see the wood for the trees or to get to the heart of this crucial case."


The editorial can be found at:


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

For a breakdown of some of the cases, issues and controversies this Blog is currently following, please turn to:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;;