Britain's most senior police officer has denied he was jumping to judgment and using the officer involved in the death of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests as a “fall guy”.
Sir Paul Stephenson was accused of being prepared to “surrender” Pc Simon Harwood by the Ulster Unionist peer Lord Maginnis, who added he was “horrified” by the police stance.
The Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC is to examine whether there is enough evidence to charge the Scotland Yard officer with manslaughter.
Sir Paul said: “It has to be a matter of very real regret for any commissioner to be in a situation where there has been a finding that somebody has died as a result of one of his officers. That's a simple statement. It's fact. That's not jumping to a judgment.”
But it was right to recognise the “observations and conclusions” of the jury, the commissioner said.
During a question and answer session at the end of Sir Paul's first speech since returning to the Metropolitan Police after a series of operations, Lord Maginnis said the Met's stance had concerned him. He told Sir Paul:
“It's worried me that you, as a leader of the police, were prepared to sacrifice a constable who I believe should have the full support of the police service.
“The idea that you are going to surrender him to the vagaries of the Press who have been calling for his blood horrifies me.
“I do hope the police will give some tangible support to that young constable who I believe must not be a fall guy.”
Mr Starmer will launch a quick and “thorough” review of his decision not to prosecute Pc Harwood after an inquest jury unanimously ruled the newspaper seller was unlawfully killed.
Jurors delivered a damning assessment of the Scotland Yard officer's actions, saying he “deliberately and intentionally” shoved the newspaper seller to the ground.
Pc Harwood will now become the first officer to face a public Metropolitan Police disciplinary inquiry.