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No charges over Blair Peach

27 April 2010

The CPS has said that it will not be bringing any charges in connection with the death of Blair Peach in 1979.

The Metropolitan Police today released internal reports into the death of the teacher and anti-racist activist at a demonstration in Southall, which said that it “could reasonably be concluded” that a Special Patrol Group officer struck the fatal blow.

A spokeswoman for the CPS said it would not be possible to charge any police officer with murder or manslaughter, or with an offence such as perverting the course of justice.

The spokeswoman went on: “In December 2009 the Metropolitan Police asked the CPS to advise whether any further investigation would be justified in relation to the death of Blair Peach in April 1979 and whether there is now, or is likely to be in the foreseeable future, evidence to prosecute for homicide or public justice offences.

“We were not asked to review the original decisions which were made before the Crown Prosecution Service was even created.

“At the outset we asked the police to clarify the position in relation to exhibits which were available at the time of the original charging decisions.

“We were informed that although some of that evidence remains intact, much of it has now been disposed of in line with procedures for retention of evidence which were in place at the time.”

The spokeswoman said the witness statements gathered at the time were still intact, but contained inconsistencies and did not provide a “definitive version of events”.

She added that the CPS concluded that it was “highly unlikely” that any new scientific or eyewitness evidence or any confession would become available more than 30 years after the event.

Sir Paul Stephenson, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said that he had given a public undertaking to publish the material.

Sir Paul said that reading the reports had left him “deeply uncomfortable”. He went on: “Thirty-one years later, we have still been unable to provide the family and friends of Blair Peach with definitive answers regarding the terrible circumstances of his death. That is a matter of deep regret.”

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Police & Prisons Procedures