Will the police ever be held to account?

Verdict due tomorrow on Ian Tomlinson’s death.

On 1 April 2009, during the G20 riots, a 47-year-old newspaper vendor was walking home from work. He was then struck by a member of the Metropolitan Police's Territorial Support Group (TSG). He later died.

Over a year later, the Crown Prosecution Service will tomorrow deliver its verdict on the Ian Tomlinson incident. As the Guardian reports, "The possible charges include manslaughter, assault and misconduct in public office. Or, the CPS may decide not to bring any charges."

I am very far from hopeful that justice will prevail. As I wrote last year, the police are the most unaccountable public body in Britain. If you don't believe me, ask the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, shot repeatedly at point-blank range at Stockwell Tube station, in south London, on 22 July 2005 after being mistaken for -- and reported as -- a "suicide bomber".

As I wrote last year, the two deaths have something in common: a police cover-up. Here is brief reminder from the piece of what happened, lest we forget, over Tomlinson:

[On] the day that Tomlinson died of a heart attack the Met issued a wholly misleading statement. A member of the public, it said, told police that "there was a man who had collapsed round the corner". Officers, it was claimed, had tried to help medics save his life as "missiles, believed to be bottles", were hurled at them.

The reality, again revealed in video, shows Tomlinson walking with his hands in his pockets, offering neither resistance nor threat to the police line behind him. Next, he is struck around the legs by a baton-wielding TSG officer who then shoves Tomlinson to the ground. After "bouncing" -- a witness's word -- on the ground, a terrified Tomlinson can be seen looking up in disbelief at the officers, who stand back, leaving the public to tend to him.

In the case of de Menezes, not a single police figure has been held to account. I would be pleased, but very surprised, if the Tomlinson case does not result in the same injustice.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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Theresa May’s stage-managed election campaign keeps the public at bay

Jeremy Corbyn’s approach may be chaotic, but at least it’s more authentic.

The worst part about running an election campaign for a politician? Having to meet the general public. Those ordinary folk can be a tricky lot, with their lack of regard for being on-message, and their pesky real-life concerns.

But it looks like Theresa May has decided to avoid this inconvenience altogether during this snap general election campaign, as it turns out her visit to Leeds last night was so stage-managed that she barely had to face the public.

Accusations have been whizzing around online that at a campaign event at the Shine building in Leeds, the Prime Minister spoke to a room full of guests invited by the party, rather than local people or people who work in the building’s office space.

The Telegraph’s Chris Hope tweeted a picture of the room in which May was addressing her audience yesterday evening a little before 7pm. He pointed out that, being in Leeds, she was in “Labour territory”:

But a few locals who spied this picture online claimed that the audience did not look like who you’d expect to see congregated at Shine – a grade II-listed Victorian school that has been renovated into a community project housing office space and meeting rooms.

“Ask why she didn’t meet any of the people at the business who work in that beautiful building. Everyone there was an invite-only Tory,” tweeted Rik Kendell, a Leeds-based developer and designer who says he works in the Shine building. “She didn’t arrive until we’d all left for the day. Everyone in the building past 6pm was invite-only . . . They seemed to seek out the most clinical corner for their PR photos. Such a beautiful building to work in.”

Other tweeters also found the snapshot jarring:

Shine’s founders have pointed out that they didn’t host or invite Theresa May – rather the party hired out the space for a private event: “All visitors pay for meeting space in Shine and we do not seek out, bid for, or otherwise host any political parties,” wrote managing director Dawn O'Keefe. The guestlist was not down to Shine, but to the Tory party.

The audience consisted of journalists and around 150 Tory activists, according to the Guardian. This was instead of employees from the 16 offices housed in the building. I have asked the Conservative Party for clarification of who was in the audience and whether it was invite-only and am awaiting its response.

Jeremy Corbyn accused May of “hiding from the public”, and local Labour MP Richard Burgon commented that, “like a medieval monarch, she simply briefly relocated her travelling court of admirers to town and then moved on without so much as a nod to the people she considers to be her lowly subjects”.

But it doesn’t look like the Tories’ painstaking stage-management is a fool-proof plan. Having uniform audiences of the party faithful on the campaign trail seems to be confusing the Prime Minister somewhat. During a visit to a (rather sparsely populated) factory in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, yesterday, she appeared to forget where exactly on the campaign trail she was:

The management of Corbyn’s campaign has also resulted in gaffes – but for opposite reasons. A slightly more chaotic approach has led to him facing the wrong way, with his back to the cameras.

Corbyn’s blunder is born out of his instinct to address the crowd rather than the cameras – May’s problem is the other way round. Both, however, seem far more comfortable talking to the party faithful, even if they are venturing out of safe seat territory.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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