New Internationalist

Blair Peach: Triumph or Warning?

So the Cass Report on the investigation by the Metropolitan Police into the killing of Blair Peach, almost exactly 31 years ago, has finally been published.

I haven’t read it all yet (it’s over 2,600 pages long), but I understand it confirms what’s been clear for 31 years to all who were not blind: that Blair was killed by one of six officers of the Special Patrol Group, who subsequently conspired to suppress the truth and were allowed to get away with it.

The Cass Report publication is a personal triumph for Celia Stubbs: for all these years she has defied the official expectation that she would eventually give up.

But it is scarcely a triumph for human rights and accountability at the Metropolitan Police. Why did it take three decades to publish? Initially promised for the beginning of the year, publication was delayed until the middle of the general election campaign. Names (and who knows what else?) have been ‘redacted’ – tampered with, that is. No police officer has been so much as disciplined, let alone prosecuted, even for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The culture of impunity in the British police persists. The family of Ian Tomlinson, the passer-by whose assailant at the G20 protests in April 2009 – a member of the Tactical Support Group, which is a direct descendant of the disgraced SPG – was actually caught on film, would doubtless testify to that.

Well, now I suppose I must attempt to read the dismal thing – and I’ll post again if anything of any interest emerges.

But I already know one thing. Blair was killed at an anti-fascist protest on the eve of the election victory by Thatcher, who already had the miners in her sights. Police impunity played a big part in crushing them, and we’ve been paying the price ever since.

Thirty years on and we’re on the eve of another election, in which the full price to be paid for the financial meltdown and corporate globalization has been kept a dirty secret. When that dirty secret breaks, after the election, police impunity is likely to be just as deadly a weapon against protest and resistance as it was on 23 April 1979.

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About the author

David Ransom a New Internationalist contributor

David Ransom joined New Internationalist in 1989 and wrote on a range of issues, from green justice to the current financial crisis, before retiring in 2009. He was a close friend of Blair Peach, once worked as a banker in Uruguay and continued to contribute to New Internationalist as a freelancer until shortly before his death in February 2016. He lived on a barge on the waterways of England’s West Country.

His publications include License to Kill on the death of Blair Peach in 1979 and The No Nonsense Guide to Fair Trade. He also co-edited, with Vanessa Baird, People First Economics.

Read more by David Ransom

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