Police Found Culpable
The death of New Zealand anti-fascist protestor, Blair Peach, in a London demonstration against the National Front in April 1979, “marked one of the most controversial events in modern policing history”, writes the Guardian’s Paul Lewis. Peach was almost certainly killed by police at the demonstration, according to a secret report recently released. The 130-page report was produced by Commander John Cass, who ran the Met’s internal complaints bureau and led the investigation into Peach’s death. A campaigner against the far right, Peach, a 33-year-old teacher, died from a blow in Southall, west London. Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan police commissioner, said the report made “uncomfortable reading” but unequivocally accepted the finding that a Met officer was likely to be responsible for the death, and expressed his “regret”. The Met has resisted publishing any material relating to the death of Peach for almost 30 years. Deborah Coles, co-director of Inquest, an organisation that was set up in 1981, partly in response to Peach’s death, and provides advice on contentious deaths, called on the Met commissioner to concede that the force was responsible for Peach’s death. “The whole police investigation into what happened on 23 April 1979, was clearly designed as an exercise in managing the fallout from the events of that iconic day in Southall, to exonerate police violence in the face of legitimate public protest,” she said.