“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

The Debate On Ian Tomlinson’s Death.

with 4 comments

I am reading more than debating the obvious causality of Ian Tomlinson’s death and the wider consequences, which cut across party political lines, Mr Eugenides covers it rather well:

“Yes, it could have been me. It could have been anyone. In the event, it was Ian Tomlinson; and now he is dead. He deserves, and we should demand, a full inquiry into the circumstances of his death, and we need to have it now. And no-one should ignore it, whatever side of the spectrum they write from; because if the state can beat one man to the ground for being in the wrong place, and do it with impunity, then we are all in the wrong place, and we are all on our knees already.”

The Daily (Maybe):

“We still await the police officers responsible to come forward. They must know they’ll be identified so what are they waiting for? Why don’t they want to give evidence? Are they getting their story straight, or just waiting to find out how much we can prove before deciding how much to admit?”


“Even without a death yesterday’s policing of the G20 protests was nothing short of disgraceful. The police made it abundantly clear in the lead up to this week that not only were they expecting trouble, they wanted it too. Police violence against protests, including peaceful protests, have become par the course. And it goes unremarked where the political establishment are concerned – probably with good reason. Their silence betrays their connivance in giving the police ever greater powers to trample on our liberties. “

Bob’s view:

” Ian Tomlinson, walking home from work, showing by keeping his hands in his pockets that he is not causing trouble, walking in the direction the police want him to walk, struck by at least one officer, for no reason. His head hits the pavement, and he dies minutes later. The police then lie about his death. Disgraceful, but not, alas, shocking.”

The final word goes to Mettaculture, a HP poster, and a very smart bloke, versed in both legal and medical matters:

“The ‘but for test’ is not made up by me but is laid down in the rulings and precedents of the common law that limit and explain its scope.

But no you can’t say ‘but for’ the protest he wouldn’t have been there or ‘but for’ Tamurlanes destruction of Delhi the Moghuls wouldn’t have taken Northern India so neither would the British Raj so there would be no anti-globalisation marches.

Well you can, you can say whatever you like about proximity and reasonable forseeability in causation and liability, but these terms have specific meanings as terms ‘art’ in the law of Torts.

Now the sort of things you are saying would have more of a bearing if this were simply a negligence case in which the argument was that the Police Officer in general and other named officers negligently caused Ian Tomlinson’s death or negligently failed to take reasonable steps to prevent it.

In such cases a person can be contributably negligent to their own harm, as they can in medical negligence or the negligence of any other professional such as architects or window cleaners.

In the case of assault though the law is very clear assault is unlawful.

If one harms someone defending oneself then there is a defence and there is no unlawfullness, therefore no assault.

The law treats the culpability for harm caused by assault as exemplary, for obvious reasons driving while intoxicated is very serious, far more serious than being a crap driver.

A bad driver hit and killed by a drunk driver is not partially to blame for the accident.

The law says they do not contribute to their own injury or death, even if in strict mechanical terms they did because they were an awful, eratic, loony driver.

They may have in practice been partly responsible for the collision in physical terms.

The law does not hold them responsible even partially for their own injury or death.

The law holds the drunk driver to be culpable, as solely responsible (unless say there was an unrelated intervention like a helicopter falling on them).

This is called a crime of strict liability. It is right.

The law is the same in assault, for compelling and important ethical, social and legal reasons.

A person who is tortured does not partially contribute to their own torture even if they are a spy or a masochist begging for it saying please, please I consent.

If you cut someones leg off it is no defense to say it was gangronous and they asked me to they even made the first cut themself.”

Written by modernityblog

10/04/2009 at 01:33

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Totally tragic, Mod.


    18/04/2009 at 14:57

  2. Precisely, a man working home, peacefully, in the wrong place at the wrong time, attacked by the Police, now dead.


    18/04/2009 at 16:28

  3. […] Bertie Lois is a WW2 veteran and is treated by the riot police as if he is detritus. Appalling, but fairly typical of British riot police as the death of Ian Tomlinson’s shows. […]

  4. […] a comment » I had been meaning to do a post on the death of Ian Tomlinson, but couldn’t quite get around to it for various […]

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