BBC Home
Explore the BBC
27 May  
Search ON THIS DAY by date
Go back one day Go forward one day  
Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
About This Site | Text Only
1980: Peach death was 'misadventure'

The jury at the inquest of Blair Peach, the London teacher who died in a demonstration against the National Front last year, has returned a verdict of misadventure.

The verdict came with three riders: that there should be more control of the Special Patrol Group (SPG) police unit by officers, that there should be better liaison with local police, and that no unauthorised weapons should be available in police stations.

Mr Peach's supporters greeted the jury's conclusion with dismay.

At a news conference, Mr Peach's girlfriend, Celia Stubbs, said the policeman who killed him had got off "scot-free".

We regard the verdict as establishing beyond any doubt that police killed Blair Peach<br>
Paul Holborow, Anti-Nazi League<br>

The Anti-Nazi League, which organised the demonstration in which Mr Peach was killed, said it would seek to have the verdict overturned.

The League's National Secretary, Paul Holborow, said, "We regard the verdict as establishing beyond any doubt that police killed Blair Peach.

"We think that the riders indicate that the SPG is an uncontrolled private army and has a licence to kill."

The verdict was welcomed, however, by Police Federation chairman James Jardine, who added that he hoped the matter would end there.

Blair Peach, a 33-year-old schoolteacher from New Zealand, died of fatal head injuries at an Anti-Nazi League protest against a National Front meeting at Southall on 23 April last year.

His inquest has become one of the longest in legal history, with 84 witnesses going before the court.

They included the 40 SPG officers implicated in the incident.

None of the police witnesses admitted hitting Mr Peach, although three said they saw him sitting on the pavement.

During the hearing it emerged that there had been an internal investigation into the death by a team of 30 detectives led by Commander John Cass of Scotland Yard's Complaints Investigation Bureau.

The jury heard how items such as crowbars, sledgehammers and coshes were found in the lockers of members of the SPG.

However, the coroner twice refused to admit the investigation report as evidence, leading to accusations of a cover-up by the Anti-Nazi League.

In Context
The verdict of misadventure caused a public outcry. <br>

The government refused requests to debate the matter in the House of Commons on the grounds that the inquest had fully investigated the circumstances surrounding Mr Peach's death. <br>

The call for a public inquiry was joined by 79 MPs, but the request was turned down. <br>

In 1986, the Peach family gained access to parts of the Cass report, which named six officers. Three years later the Metropolitan Police reached an out-of-court settlement with Mr Peach's brother. <br>

Celia Stubbs, Mr Peach's partner at the time of the riots, continued to campaign for a public investigation into his death. <br>

In April 2010, the police finally released details of the Cass report. Although names of the officers involved were not revealed, it did confirm that an officer probably struck the fatal blow which killed Mr Peach. <br>

It also confirmed that no officers would face prosecution following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service. <br>

 E-mail this story to a friend

Celia Stubbs, Blair Peach's partner
Celia Stubbs believes the policeman who killed her boyfriend got off "scot-free"

Stories From 27 May

Search ON THIS DAY by date
Go back one day Go forward one day  

^^ back to top
Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
©MMVIII | News Sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy