“We are all looking at the video – everybody in the room is looking at the video. And I’m asking you a very simple question. When you pushed him, did he have his back to you, yes or no?” – Ryder QC
“No” – PC Simon Harwood
“You’re lying, PC Harwood, I suggest. And you know it.” – Ryder QC
April 6, 2011
The officer who pushed and struck Ian Tomlinson shortly before his death has been branded “absurd” after telling an inquest that the newspaper vendor was “almost inviting physical confrontation” during the G20 protests in London in April 2009. Giving evidence for a third day, PC Simon Harwood was adamant that he had not pushed Tomlinson from behind – despite video footage that appeared to contradict his claims. When the officer repeated his claim that Tomlinson had been walking into a police line before the encounter, the family’s lawyer, Matthew Ryder QC, replied: “I suggest to you the answer you are trying to give is absurd.”
However, Harwood insisted that “from his angle”, the 47-year-old had not been moving away. “That is rubbish, I suggest to you, PC Harwood, and you know it,” said Ryder. “I was there and I saw what I saw,” said Harwood. In an earlier statement, the officer had maintained that Tomlinson was “almost defiant in that his hands remained in his pockets and he looked at police officers approaching him as if he was simply intent on remaining where he was”. He stood by that claim in his evidence today, despite being reminded by the acting deputy coroner, Judge Peter Thornton QC, that he need not answer any question that tended to incriminate him.
Harwood again responded by saying that he was “here to help” – a claim that reduced family members, including Tomlinson’s widow, to tears. Harwood also accepted that he had not given Tomlinson any warning before pushing him and told the court that he believed that he was entitled, as a police officer, to strike someone even if he had judged them not to pose a threat. Ryder asked: “Does your training tell you if someone is not a threat to you or any other person it is acceptable to baton them? Is that your training? “Yes,” replied Harwood.
He also said that he did not consider his push to be any harder than that of a fellow officer who had pushed Tomlinson seconds earlier. Another officer, however, had described Harwood’s push as being “in a different league of force”. Harwood said he had not expected Tomlinson to fall to the ground as a result of the push. “Someone who has his back to you, you push him with that force, from behind and you didn’t expect he might fall to the ground?” asked the barrister.
“No,” said Harwood.
“I suggest that is a lie.”
“No it is not,” replied Harwood.
Ryder then asked if he had been trying “to make an example of” Tomlinson.
“Because that would be a pretty horrible thing to do, do you agree? Just to make an example of them. Do you agree with that?”
“Yes,” said the officer.
April 6, 2011
The police officer who pushed Ian Tomlinson minutes before he died at the G20 protests in London said he was “almost inviting a confrontation”. Pc Simon Harwood stood by his statement in which he said Mr Tomlinson’s posture was “almost defiant”. The jury at the inquest into his death was again shown footage of Pc Harwood shoving the 47-year-old as he walked away from a police line. The Tomlinsons’ lawyer accused the officer of lying and talking “rubbish”.
Giving evidence for the third day, Pc Harwood said he had not expected the newspaper seller to fall over and he had not helped him while he lay on the ground because it was not part of his training. When asked later by his lawyer if he had intended to hurt Mr Tomlinson, he appeared to wipe tears from his eyes as he replied “not at all, no.” Pc Harwood, part of the Metropolitan Police’s specialist Territorial Support Group (TSG), was caught on film pushing the newspaper seller to the ground in Cornhill, central London, on 1 April 2009. Mr Tomlinson got back to his feet but collapsed and died minutes later.
Mr Tomlinson, who was not a demonstrator and had been selling newspapers in nearby Fish Street Hill, was on his way home when he encountered the protests. On Wednesday, the officer was challenged over claims in his statement from 2009 that the father-of-nine had been inviting the confrontation and his push had been just a “gesture”. “He (Mr Tomlinson) just looked as if he was going to stay where he was whatever and was almost inviting physical confrontation in terms of being moved on,” the statement said.
In another part of his statement, he said: “His (Mr Tomlinson) posture was almost defiant. His hands remained in his pockets, he did not move away, and he looked at the police officers approaching him as if he was simply intent on remaining where he was.” Pc Harwood, who is suspended from the force on full pay, has been told he will not face any criminal prosecutions over what happened – but he is still facing a Met Police misconduct hearing, due to take place after the inquest.
10.20am: Fair exchanges are as frosty as they were yesterday. Ryder has asked for video footage showing the crowd at the time he made his attempted arrest. Ryder says the footage shows that Harwood’s carrier was “the safest place you could be at that time” (after the arrest), and points out that his colleague, PC Hayes, was able to return to his van.
10.25am: Another piece of footage – shot just after 19.14pm. PC Harwood joins another officer by the Royal Exchange Buildings. There is a protester blowing a toy trumpet near an officer. The second officer does not react, but Harwood, joining the officer, flicks his jacket at the protester. At one stage Harwood is asked if he wants to see the footage again. He replies: “No thank you.”
Ryder: “You took hold of him and pulled him to the floor, didn’t you?
Ryder: “Do you agree you pulled him to the floor?”
Harwood: “From seeing the video evidence I agree I grabbed his, I believe, left arm.”
Ryder: “And pulled him to the floor.”
Harwood: “No, I pulled him away from myself.”
10.43am: The footage appears to show Falshaw being pulled and falling backwards on to the ground. Harwood repeatedly denies having pulled the cameraman from behind and, when offered the chance to see the video again, replies: “No.”
Ryder: “I’m going to suggest to you, PC Harwood, that you are deliberately being evasive here and that you are deliberately not facing up to what is happening in the video.”
Harwood: “No, I’m not being evasive.”
11.04am: Seconds later, and according to Harwood’s initial log book, he became surrounded by protesters. The video footage appears to contradict this. There are a number of bystanders in front of the officer, some metres away.
Ryder: “Do you know what surrounded means, PC Harwood?
Harwood: “In my own way, yes.
Ryder: “In your own way. OK. So in your own way that means surrounded, does it? People in front of you?”
Ryder implying Harwood reconstructed events in his notebook in a manner which suited him. After a number of exchanges like this, in which Harwood said he had only a “minor recollection” when writing up his notes (40 minutes later), the officer finally concedes: “Now looking at video, I can now see, there is not as great a crowd as I first believed – in my notes.” Judge Peter Thornton QC then interjects to clarify matters:
Judge: “Would you say it was correct that you were not surrounded?”
Harwood: “Yes, Sir.”
11.19am: Harwood is now being shown snippets of police helicopter footage which he has not yet seen. The officer initially refuses to answer questions until he sees the video in its entirety. The aerial views show the scene from above. Ryder says the footage shows how easy it would have been for Harwood to return to his van, which he had not been expected to stray from on the day of the G20.
Ryder: “You were more interested in being away from your carrier, with other officers, in the middle of it, weren’t you?
11.52am: The jury is now being shown footage from Royal Exchange Buildings, in the seconds leading up to the moment PC Harwood confronted Ian Tomlinson. Ryder says he is showing the video to give a sense of the atmosphere at the crowd.
Ryder: “No one seems to be pushing at the lines, or pushing at the officers, or anything like that?”
Harwood: “Not at that point, no.”
“I’m going to suggest to you PC Harwood that what you do all the time is downplay what you were actually doing, because you know what you were actually doing was excessive and unreasonable.”
Ryder: “At no point did Mr Tomlinson ever walk toward the police line, did he?”
Harwood: “From my perception of the angle at the time, yes he did.”
Ryder: “PC Harwood, I’m suggesting to you that it is right there in front of your eyes – that what you are suggesting is not true.”
12.14pm: Harwood’s evidence yesterday was that he used force against Tomlinson, because he was refusing to move away from the police line. Retracing snippets of video, Matthew Ryder is suggesting that the newspaper vendor was moving in the direction police wanted him to go. The footage shows Tomlinson moving slowly, but continuously, away from police in a south-westerly direction. Ryder said this showed Tomlinson was clearly not moving toward police.
Harwood: “From the peripheral vision I had at the time, he was.”
Ryder: “I thought you told us yesterday that your balaclava didn’t give you peripheral vision?”
Harwood: “I meant from the perceived angle that I could see.”
Ryder: “That is rubbish PC Harwood, and you know it.”
Harwood: “I was there and I saw what I saw.”
Ryder: “I am asking you what’s right in front of you. Do you agree at the time you pushed Mr Tomlinson he had his back to you? PC Harwood, do you want to change your answer?
Harwood: “From watching the video image here or what I perceived?”
Ryder: “The truth. What’s the truth? Do you agree he had his back to you? Everyone in this room is looking at this video. When you pushed him, did he have his back to you, yes or no? I am asking you what should be a very straight forward question, just answer it.”
Harwood: “I am here to give answers, I am here to help.”
Ryder: “When you pushed him did he have his back to you?”
12.47pm: Ryder is going over a statement produced by Harwood in July 2009, about his encounter with Tomlinson months earlier. In the statement he said Tomlinson’s “posture was almost defiant”, he “did not move away” and “looked at the police officer approaching him as if he was simply intent on remaining where he was”. Ryder said the footage shows that was not true. Harwood stands by the claims. Ryder again accuses him of lying – prompting the judge to intervene, to tell Harwood he is not obliged to answer any questions that would incriminate him
12.55pm: Harwood is now attempting to explain the lawful power he believed he had been exercising – entitling him to use force against Tomlinson. After some exchanges in which Harwood is asked to cite the law, but appears unable to, he settles on “breach of the peace”.
Ryder: “Mr Tomlinson was constituting a breach of the peace, was he?”
Harwood: “As far as I can remember, yes.”
“As a Metropolitan police officer are you are telling us that your training says that that if someone represents no threat to you and no threat to another person, you are entitled to baton them?”
1.07pm: Harwood has been read out an earlier statement he gave investigators, in which he said Tomlinson’s stance indicated “he was going to stay where he was, whatever happened”. In this previous statement, Harwood said Tomlinson was “almost inviting a physical confrontation”. Harwood is asked if he still believes that was true. He replies: “Yes.” In the same statement, Harwood described the push as “in many ways no more than a gesture, associated with the baton strike” to encourage Tomlinson to move. Harwood is asked if he still believes that was true. He replies: “Yes.”
1.09pm: Ryder is now asking why Harwood did not record his baton strike and push of Tomlinson when he wrote up his notes about 40 minutes later. In a bid to explain this, Harwood said he recalled general events of the day and “couldn’t remember” the incident with Tomlinson.
1.14pm: The last few exchanges concerned the fact Harwood did not go to Tomlinson’s aid after he struck the ground. The inquest has heard from another officer who was standing nearby who said she believed the fall was so hard she expected there to be blood. Ryder asked Harwood why he did not go to the newspaper seller’s assistance to check he was OK.
“It is not classified as part of our training to do that, in that circumstance.”
2.10pm: Matthew Ryder says he has finished his cross-examination of PC Harwood. Ms Samantha Leek, counsel for the Metropolitan police, is now questioning him. She said her questioning would focus on briefings and training received by the police officer.
2.14pm: Leek is talking through the Met’s “conflict management model”, which sets out when reasonable force can be used. Harwood initially appears not to know about this model. She also refers to the Association of Chief Police Officers’ manual for public order. Again, Harwood does not seem to be very aware of this document.
“When can you baton somebody if they don’t pose a threat at all?”
Leek:“I want to know what your training tells you. You told the jury, ‘my training tells me that if somebody is not a threat, I can baton them.'”
Harwood:“I can only resort to our public order trianing, and we’re encouraged to use those items… its hard to explain…”
2.22pm: Leek is focusing on this point. She said that the training states there are a number of options for an officer to consider using force, including doing nothing, warning somebody verbally and to “usher them away gently”. Harwood repeatedly states that he was going by the training he received at Gravesend (the Met’s Kent-based public order training centre).
Leek: “To use a baton strike before considering any other method?”
Harwood: “To use force.”
2.30pm: Evidence is now being taken on the briefings given to Harwood ahead of the protest. Leek said that “at no point” was Harwood told that he would have to use force at the G20. After some exchanges, Harwood concedes that he was aware that force would not necessarily have to be used. One of the briefings Harwood received was from his territorial support group sergeant, Emma Shaw. He was in the driver seat, behind a partial screen, and she was standing in the middle of the vehicle. Previously, he said he could not hear the briefing, and told his sergeant this. Leek points out that the sergeant’s testimony to the jury contradicted this. Leek has finished her questioning.
2.31pm: Patrick Gibbs QC, Harwood’s counsel, has started questioning. He said Harwood had been “under interrogation” for almost 10 hours, and asked him how difficult it had been to disentangle his memories from this consideration after watching footage and images. Harwood replied it was “almost impossible” to tell the difference.
3.59pm: Harwood’s lawyer Patrick Gibbs is taking the officer through the video footage significantly more quickly than Tomlinson’s family barrister did earlier. Harder to keep up. We’ve now reached footage of the incident itself. We have heard previously that police are instructed to remain behind dog officers, but Harwood had to step in front of them to strike Tomlinson. Under questioning from Gibbs, Harwood says that he was not the only officer to step “in front of the dog officers”, but there were at least two others in similar positions. Harwood’s voice is appearing quite strained now – like a stage whisper.
Gibbs: “Has it felt to you, over the last few days, as though you are on trial?”
“I understand it where, a person draws influence, that, erm … I’m trying to think how to put it into words, sorry. At the time, I think, when coming down from Threadneadle Street, I was aware there was civil disorder, and from moving down the exchange, I could obviously see there were still situations occurring. And at the time, breach of the peace, from what I recall, is what was most appropriate to use.”
The judge said Harwood also said he believed Tomlinson’s actions constituted a breach of the peace. Harwood confirmed this, adding: “Just in terms of him coming into the lines – possibly upsetting the situation we were trying to control at the time.”
Wednesday April 6, 2011
MS LEEK: PC Harwood, I ask questions on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service. I have two specific areas I want to deal with you with, and those are training and briefings. I will start with training. The first is a small point. At the beginning of your evidence, Ms Hewitt put to you that your last training session was in January 2004. I just want to put that straight. For the record, it was, in fact, January 2009, wasn’t it?
Q. No, I am asking you about your training. I am not
5 asking you about what you did on the day. I am not
6 going to ask you about that at all. I want to know what
7 your training tells you, because you told the jury —
8 and I am quoting from what you said:
9 “Answer: My training tells me that, if someone is
10 not a threat, I can baton them.”
A. Yes. I can only resort back to where we have public
14 order training and we are encouraged to use those
15 items — even — it is hard to explain without showing
16 some sort of map, picture. I don’t understand really
17 what you are asking me to explain.
Q. I am asking you to explain the evidence you gave before
19 lunch, PC Harwood, because I am not aware of any
20 training that you may have undergone which tells you
21 that, if somebody is not a threat, you can baton them,
22 or that you can use force, either to effect an arrest or
23 in self-defence, or to exercise a power, if somebody
24 doesn’t pose any threat whatsoever. So just explain
25 what you meant.
Q. Let’s just look at the conflict management model,
6 because what you are taught in relation to that is that,
7 in relation to the use of force, you have a whole range
8 of options that you can deploy when you are exercising
9 a power or when you are effecting an arrest of somebody,
10 or when you are acting in self-defence or defence of
11 another. Now, the first of those, am I right, is to do
Q. If possible. And if possible, in deciding whether something is possible, you will consider whether there is a risk to you, other officers or members of the public in going forward to administer that aftercare?
Q. I just want to move on to briefings now. You said yesterday that you had forgotten the briefing with Inspector Williams. I think you said initially that you had forgotten the briefing with Inspector Williams; do you remember that?
Q. But given the previous protests that you had been involved in, and given your training, you would know that in any event, is that right, that in a demonstration of this nature there is the potential for hostility?
Q. Because Sergeant Shaw, in her evidence, said this — sir, for your reference, it is Day 3, page 218, line 7: “Question: Did he give you any indication that he couldn’t hear anything?” I asked her that question and she said: “Answer: No. “Question: At any point, did he ask you to clarify what you had said?” And she said: “Answer: No.” Now, thinking back to that day, Officer, there is an awful lot that you now think that you can remember because you have been asked, because you have looked at footage, and it is two years ago, but you haven’t said anywhere else beforehand that you asked her to clarify anything she said, or that you gave her any indication that you couldn’t hear. So are you sure that is not an assumption, rather than what you actually now remember?
MR BRANSTON: Officer, I ask questions on behalf of the City of London Police. It is a very small point. The jury, if they don’t already have it, I think are going to be given a 32-page statement that you prepared on 9 July 2009, and it is one very narrow issue that you raise in there that they will in due course read. Sir, for your note, I am at page 23, at the top of those paginated pages. Officer, do you have that?
Q. It is the second paragraph down. Ms Leek, on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service, asked you briefly to confirm, which you did, that, in essence, a senior officer cannot give you an instruction to use force, the decision always rests with the individual officer. Do you remember — I paraphrase, but do you remember giving that evidence?
Q. Can I just confirm that, even if — and for the record, it is not accepted that this was said — but even if you say here you heard a dog handler shout “Someone baton him”, can we just agree, Officer, that even if that was said, that had no bearing on your later action. Is that right?