20th Jul 2012 12:13pm | By Laura Chubb
The Metropolitan police has apologised for re-employing PC Simon Harwood, whose disciplinary record came to light after he was found not guilty of killing newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson.
Official records revealed that Harwood once quit the Metropolitan police to avoid a disciplinary hearing, yet was later allowed to rejoin the force.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission described his re-employment with the force as "simply staggering".
The jury returned a not guilty verdict at the end of Harwood's trial yesterday. The officer had argued that he used 'reasonable force' when he shoved Tomlinson and hit him with a baton during the G20 demonstrations in London in 2009. Tomlinson died minutes after the incident.
After Hardwood was cleared, it was revealed that he had a record of 'heavy handed' policing that was concealed from the jury to avoid prejudicing the trial.
The officer quit the Metropolitan police on health grounds in 2001, shortly before he was to face a disciplinary hearing over claims that he had illegally tried to arrest a man in a road rage incident when he was off duty. Harwood had even altered notes after the incident to back up his claim that his actions were justified.
Following his resignation, Harwood joined another force in Surrey, then returned to the Met in 2005.
Other allegations against the officer include that he punched, kneed, throttled and threatened other suspects - although only one complaint was upheld.
The Met's deputy assistant commissioner, Maxine de Brunner, admitted that Tomlinson should not have been allowed to rejoin the force.
"It is clear that insufficient recording and checks meant that detailed information regarding the officer's misconduct history was not shared at key points. We got that wrong," she said.
"Since then there have been huge changes to vetting processes. Now all applicants, including officers applying to becoming police staff, as well those re-joining or transferring from other police services, are formally vetted and this involves a full misconduct intelligence check."
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