The Independent Police Complaints Commission is set to reveal within days whether it thinks the Met Police deliberately misled the media after the death of newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protest in London on 1 April, 2009.
The IPCC investigation was triggered by allegations that police officers and press officers at the Metropolitan Police Service and City of London Police briefed the media against pursuing the story and attempted to cover up details of Tomlinson’s death.
The investigation has reviewed all police press office contact, including all prepared press lines, made by the MPS and the CLP between 1 April 2009 – the date Tomlinson died – and 7 April 2009, the date The Guardian published the first video footage of Tomlinson being shoved to the ground by PC Simon Harwood.
An inquest jury found on Tuesday that Harwood’s actions amounted to Tomlinson being “unlawfully killed”.
The IPCC confirmed to Press Gazette that its report will look into whether any offences were committed by police officers or communications staff in connection with media handling, and whether they complied with ‘media protocol agreed between the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)”.
An IPCC spokesperson said the investigation will also ‘consider and report on whether there is any (i)learning for any individual police officer or member of police staff: or (ii) organisational learning for the police service, including whether any change in the policy or practice of media handling may help to avoid the concerns expressed above”.
Following Tomlinson’s death there were numerous allegations that the police tried to cover up the circumstances surrounding the day’s events.
Guardian journalist Paul Lewis, who has won awards for his investigation into Tomlinson’s death, last year told Press Gazette that the newspaper had come under pressure from police to remove the damning video evidence from its website.
Lewis said: ‘There were definitely attempts I felt, personally, to dissuade me from pursuing this storyâ€¦There were police officers trying to discourage us from pursuing the story and also trying to discourage the family from talking to us.”
He also claimed official statements and briefings at the time appeared to discourage journalists from looking into the story.
The IPCC has delayed publication of this new report until after the inquest into Tomlinson’s death.
An IPCC spokesperson said it was ‘hoping to publish the report in the next few days but have no firm date set at the moment”.
Yesterday the Met Police confirmed that the disciplinary hearing into PC Harwood’s conduct will be open to public and the press. It will be the first time the Met has held such an inquiry in public.