Could the policeman who pushed Ian Tomlinson have been an impostor - a member of the public in disguise? This novel possibility was raised by a senior police investigator looking into the death of Tomlinson, who died at the G20 protests shortly after an alleged push from a police officer. According to a report released yesterday, Tomlinson's widow was told by the investigator that they 'couldn't rule out' the possibility that the assailant was a member of the public wearing a stolen police uniform, a scenario that the family judge as 'fantastical'. By saying such things, the City of London Police 'completely failed to persuade the Tomlinson family of its impartiality'. In other words, for a police officer to deflect blame for the incident to a notional impostor undermines confidence that the investigation is unbiased.
But should it? Surely it is an investigator's duty to keep all possibilities open until evidence rules them out. While the idea seems wildly unlikely, it is not impossible that a far-left protest group might wish to agitate the crowds by simulating police brutality. It was perhaps unwise of the officer to mention this unlikelihood to the grieving widow, before serious analysis of the video evidence was complete. But the admission that he was keeping an objective mind to alternative theories does not, in our view, show the investigation to be biased.
Image by J. Bardolph in the Londonist Flickr pool.