New claims over Tomlinson death media 'cover-up'

The Guardian has published new evidence claiming police misled journalists over the death of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is expected to publish a report today looking into whether police and press officers misled the media following Tomlinson’s death on 1 April, 2009.

Today’s Guardian report alleges three Met police officers came forward to say they had witnessed another officer pushing Tomlinson to the ground, but that this information was not passed to either the coroner, the pathologist, the media or Tomlinson’s family.

Nor was the information handed to the IPCC, reports Guardian journalist Paul Lewis.

The Guardian reports that this has forced the police watchdog to open a new investigation into what exactly happened with the information, following a meeting last week in which The Guardian gave the IPCC a breakdown of its evidence.

Within hours of Tomlinson’s death the City of London police press office was influencing coverage via off-the-record briefings, The Guardian reports, adding: ‘A reporter was told Tomlinson’s family were ‘not surprised’ about his death and that speculation was upsetting them.

‘Tomlinson’s family say the content of these briefings was ‘completely untrue’. Press coverage that day was largely favourable to the police. The Evening Standard, the newspaper Tomlinson had been selling for two decades, ran the headline: ‘Police pelted with bricks as they help dying man’.”

The story goes on to claim that the IPCC was on the verge of exonerating the police over any wrongdoing and drafted a police statement saying: ‘Based on the information at this stage the IPCC are satisfied that there is no evidence that the actions of those officers present in Cornhill contributed in any way to the sudden and untimely death of an innocent bystander.”

The statement was dropped after new witnesses came forward.

Today’s IPCC report will look at all police press office contact, including all prepared press lines, made by the Met Police and City of London Police 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.

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