Assembly calls for Blair Peach public inquiry

06 June 2019

The unlawful death of Blair Peach was remembered by the London Assembly today, 40 years after the event took place.

It agreed a motion stating that public institutions still have more to do to improve the confidence of all the diverse communities they serve and called for a public inquiry into the death.

 

Dr Onkar Sahota AM, who proposed the motion said:  

“This year marks the 40th anniversary of the tragic and unlawful death of anti-racism activist, Blair Peach, at the hands of a police officer during a protest against the National Front. Four decades on, this continues to cast a dark shadow over our communities.

“This anniversary reminds us that, whilst it is very important to recognise the progress made by the Met Police in recent decades to strengthen its relationship with the diverse communities it serves, there is still a lot more work that needs to be done.

“There are also still a number of questions surrounding the events leading to Blair Peach’s death, as outlined in the Cass Report.

“It is therefore vital that we now see a commitment to delivering justice and full transparency, with MOPAC publishing an unredacted version of the Cass Report and the Mayor and Chair of the London Assembly lobbying the Home Secretary to launch a public inquiry, so we can hold those responsible to account”.

 

The full text of the motion is:

The Assembly notes the events that took place on 24th April 1979 in Southall when the people of the town came together to resist a provocative meeting of the National Front in Southall Town Hall. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the unlawful death of Blair Peach during the events that unfolded on that tragic day.

 

The Cass report, released in 2010, found that fourteen witnesses saw a police officer strike Blair Peach. The report concluded that there is no evidence to show Mr Peach received the injury that caused his death in any other way.[1] The report that was published in 2010 contained redactions and, until an unredacted version is made available, questions surrounding the death of Mr Peach will remain unresolved. 

 

We recognise the significant progress made by the Metropolitan Police Service in the past forty years. The establishment of the Independent Office for Police Conduct provides independent investigation of complaints against police officers, the MPS workforce is far more representative of the city it serves, and body-worn video has increased accountability and transparency over the actions of officers as they carry out vital work to keep our city safe.

 

However, we also recognise that the MPS, MOPAC and public institutions still have more to do to improve the confidence of all the diverse communities they serve. In divisive times, and with increasing levels of hate crime, it is vital that all public institutions set a high standard for equality and tolerance. The realities of what happened forty years ago still cast a real shadow over our communities.

 

We therefore call upon the Mayor and the Chair of the London Assembly to write to the Home Secretary to set up a public inquiry to hold to account those responsible for the unlawful death of Blair Peach. We further call on MOPAC to publish an unredacted version of the Cass Report.

Notes to editors

  1. Watch the full webcast
  2. The motion was agreed unanimously.
  3. Dr Onkar Sahota AM, who proposed the motion, is available for interviews. 
  4. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.


For media enquiries, please contact Alison Bell on 020 7983 4228.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officer.  Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.

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