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Did Guardian photographer of Tomlinson assault risk ten years in prison?

By Mark Littlewood
April 8th, 2009 at 4:53 pm | Comments Off on Did Guardian photographer of Tomlinson assault risk ten years in prison? | Posted in UK Politics

Here’s a worrying thought, following the announcement of an IPCC enquiry into the death of Ian Tomlinson.

Was the American investment fund manager who took the footage potentially committing a crime himself?

In February of this year, s76 of the Counter Terrorism Act came into force. It permits the arrest of anyone found “eliciting, publishing or communicating information” relating to members of the armed forces, intelligence services and police officers, which is “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.

At the time, the BBC reported that anyone taking a photograph of a police officer could be deemed to have committed a criminal offence.

Whilst a New York banker might sound like an unlikely candidate to be an al-Qaeda terrorist suspect, the police were clearly signalling in advance of the protests that they were considering the use of anti-terrorist measures.

Fortunately – for the sake of a full and proper inquiry into possible manslaughter – no police officer ripped the video camera from the New York banker’s hands. And, surely, it is inconceivable that any jury would have convicted him.

But given this latest mammoth embarrassment to the police – in which their first public statements on the incidents surrounding Mr. Tomlinson’s death have now been shown to be untruths – expect s76 powers to be used more widely in future. Not to protect anyone from terrorists, but rather to shield the police from proper public scrutiny.

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Why the Tory hesitation over Ian Tomlinson’s death?

By Mark Littlewood
April 8th, 2009 at 8:05 am | 2 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

Three cheers for David Howarth, the LibDem justice spokesman, for demanding a criminal inquiry into Ian Tomlinson’s death following the release of footage by The Guardian.

The short clip clearly shows Mr. Tomlinson being aggressively pushed to the ground by a police officer. Of course, it is impossible to understand the possible rationale or motivation for the riot police’s behaviour (that’s why we need an inquiry, right?).

But where are the Tories on this issue?

If Her Majesty’s Opposition really are “liberal” Conservatives as their leader insists, you’d expect them to be all over this issue like a rash.

No doubt, Chris Grayling and Dominic Grieve will decide what they think about the matter soon – but the fact that the LibDems have beaten them to the punch again does call into question whether the Tories will ever discover a liberal-inclined soul.

UPDATE: As of 6pm on Wenesday April 8th (more than twelve hours sicne the story started dominating the headlines), the Conervative Party’s latest news section on their website STILL doesn’t include a statement on the death of Ian Tomlinson.

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