The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Legitimacy and Otherwise

The Metropolitan Firearms and Headbangers' Club has deigned to publish the report by the head of its internal complaints bureau into the death of Blair Peach, whose skull was bashed in by a member of the Special Patrol Group, the Met's elite anti-protest squad, during an attempt to undermine St George's Day. Although it has taken a mere thirty-one years for the report to be published, there are few surprises. Certain officers lied in order to obstruct the investigation, and Commander John Cass, who had the unpleasant task of preparing the whitewash, strongly recommended that they be charged with perjury, presumably so that an appropriately sympathetic judge could instruct the jury in the legal and ethical complexities of the matter. Nobody was charged. Cass concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone for the killing and that Peach pretty much deserved what he got. Nobody was prosecuted. Although Cass registered concern about officers having unauthorised weapons, nobody was prosecuted for that either. The inquest recorded a verdict of death by misadventure, and the elite anti-protest squad continued on its merry way to the Ian Tomlinson incident last year. Sir Paul Stephenson, the present commissioner of the Metropolitan Firearms and Headbangers' Club, supported the release of the report after Tomlinson was fatally assaulted by a member of the elite anti-protest squad - now renamed the Territorial Support Group, apparently in an effort to de-toxify the brand by conflating it with our brave boys in the Territorial Army. Commenting on Peach's little accident, Stephenson said he was sorry that officers had behaved badly, and even sorrier that "we haven't brought it to that definitive point where we can absolutely say what happened, why it happened, and what was the legitimacy or otherwise of that", which appears to be Sir Paul Stephenson's version of the ever-convenient open verdict. Nevertheless, the Metropolitan Firearms and Headbangers' Club is now a "completely different" force, as is shown by the rigorous inquiries which they undertook after one of their officers was caught on camera assaulting Tomlinson from behind and after their various self-exculpatory stories of the incident were exposed as false. Unlike the Peach investigation, these inquiries have been so rigorous that they too have resulted in nobody being charged; but at least we know that times have changed sufficiently for the Metropolitan Firearms and Headbangers' Club to get away with killing people at protests whether or not the said people happen to be involved in the protesting.


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