PC Harwood has been found not guilty of manslaughter. The solicitor for the family of Ian Tomlinson has promised they will pursue a civil remedy following the verdict.
There does seem to be a strange dichotomy between the inquest verdict and the court verdict. If Tomlinson was unlawfully killed, and PC Harwood was the one to use force on him, then how can this verdict be right?
However, this isn't the full story. Jean-Charles de Menezes is a good example. He was unlawfully killed, because he was not a suicide bomber, and was shot dead due to mistaken identity. However, the individual officers who shot him were acting in good faith, and believed they were saving lives by their actions. The Met was found guilty of breaching Health and Safety, which is the only justice his family will ever see.
Likewise an inquest can conclude that Ian Tomlinson was not participating in the riot, and did not deserve police force to be used on him. But through the eyes of an officer policing that riot, who believes he used proportionate force in accordance with his powers, this may still not amount to an assault. If there's no assault, there can be no manslaughter in these circumstances.
Much has been made of PC Harwood being the subject of - shock horror - TEN disciplinary proceedings in twelve years. However only one of these is actually disclosed as relating to violence, and that is the only one where there is a suggestion he would have been found guilty of misconduct at the time. Delving deeper into that case, he was not accused of assault but of unlawful arrest and "discreditable conduct". Maybe he flashed his warrant card when off-duty, or something. Hardly comparable to batoning someone to death. The way the disciplinary proceedings in 2001 were side-stepped needs looking at, but it doesn't make him a murderer.
As for the other nine "disciplinary complaints" - whatever that means - I'm sorry to disclose to readers than I can beat PC Harwood's record. As a front-line response officer I receive a couple of complaints a year, about a range of matters such as arresting people illegally, being uncivil, handcuffing people incorrectly, losing/stealing people's property, knocking on doors at inappropriate hours, the list goes on. Not one of these matters has seen me placed before a misconduct panel. Either I'm sleeping with the head of Professional Standards, or I haven't done a lot wrong.
The fact is, if you are policing robustly, you will get complaints. The occasional one will be substantiated - hopefully more along the lines of swearing at someone in annoyance than using lethal force unlawfully. The police blogging community has rallied around PC Simon Harwood because regardless of the facts of this particular case, any one of us could find ourselves in a similar position.
In any event, I don't think the Ian Tomlinson case has quite run its course. Watch this space for the result of the appeal of the appeal of the appeal.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.