Page last updated at 17:30 GMT, Wednesday, 15 April 2009 18:30 UK

Met suspends G20 footage officer


Police officer hit G20 protester - footage courtesy YouTube

A police sergeant seen in video footage hitting a woman during a G20 protest in London has been suspended, Scotland Yard has said.

He is shown hitting the woman in the face with his hand and her leg with his baton after allegedly being sworn at.

The sergeant works for the Territorial Support Group.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission - probing Ian Tomlinson's death during the 1 April protests - is examining the 2 April incident.

Opposition members of the London Assembly said the latest incident proved that Mr Tomlinson's assault was not an isolated incident.

The woman who was seen being assaulted by the officer has been identified only as Nicky.

Her sister Natalie Thompson, from Brighton, said: "It has been stated that there are injuries but I'm not allowed to comment but I have been misquoted already."

Officers 'accountable'

The latest video footage featuring the female protester has been passed to the IPCC, a Metropolitan Police spokesman said.

"The officer has been identified and suspended pending further investigation. The officer works as a sergeant in the territorial support group," he added.

Earlier, police said the actions of the officer featured in the footage raised "immediate concerns".

"Every officer is accountable under law, and fully aware of the scrutiny that their actions can be held open to," police said.

Witness Andrew Or: 'He hit her across the face'

"The decision to use force is made by the individual police officer, and they must account for that."

The IPCC said it had been made aware of the latest footage by the Met and would now be looking at the "best way to progress an investigation into the actions of the officer involved".

Jenny Jones, the Green Party's home affairs spokesman on the London Assembly, said she was worried officers may have hidden police uniform numbers to avoid identification.

"This new video footage confirms what many of us knew, that the assault on Ian Tomlinson was far from being an isolated incident during the G20 protest," she said.

She added: "Any attempt to avoid accountability by hiding police uniform numbers, destroying video images, or collusion over statements, must be severely dealt with."

A Met spokesman said the grey epaulette flashes on the officer should also have carried his sergeant stripes.

David Howarth, the Liberal Democrat's justice spokesman, has called for a "full-scale inquiry".

"The fact that this video shows another example of an officer with his number obscured assaulting a member of the public indicates that there is a systematic problem here, not just a series of individual acts of misconduct," he said.

"The question is on my mind whether the police are using a some kind of 'designated hitter' system."

Investigation 'right'

Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, said: "It is no doubt a pressure cooker environment, however highly trained professionals are supposed to be better at defusing the situation."

Andrew Or, a photographer who was standing near the woman, said the strike across the face could have been accidental.

"I was actually quite shocked when I saw the movement of the arm and her being hit by the policeman," he said.

"He may not have meant to hit her, he may have been swinging his arm in a movement to say move back."

The video footage of the female protester emerged as the IPCC continues to investigate the death of Mr Tomlinson, who suffered a heart attack and died during the demonstrations on 1 April.

The IPCC took up the case after footage taken by a New York fund manager showed Mr Tomlinson being pushed to the ground by a police officer shortly before his death.

Days later more video footage aired on Channel 4 appeared to show the newspaper vendor being struck by an officer with a baton.

The police officer seen in the video of Mr Tomlinson has been suspended by the Met.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, said it was "absolutely right" any allegations regarding the new video footage should be thoroughly investigated.

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