originally published by: The Guardian
22nd January 2010
Government officials withheld a document relating to the death of Blair Peach, the anti-fascist campaigner widely believed to have been killed by police in 1979, because they feared it would portray the coroner as biased and lend weight to calls for a public inquiry.
Peach, a 33-year-old teacher from New Zealand, died after being struck on the head at a demonstration against the National Front in Southall, west London. Witnesses said they saw him being attacked by police but after an internal investigation by the Metropolitan police no officers were charged.
The inquest, at which several suspected officers gave evidence, controversially returned a verdict of “death by misadventure”, and the coroner, the late Dr John Burton, was accused by Peach supporters of prejudicing the jury.
Documents held at the National Archives at Kew reveal senior civil servants became concerned after discovering Burton had penned an “unpublished story” about the Peach death which railed against what the coroner saw as a leftwing campaign to destabilise the legal establishment.