originally published by: BBC News
27th April 2010
It is rare that an internal police document is exposed to the light of day – and so the publication of the investigation into the death of Blair Peach in 1979 makes extraordinary reading.
But from the very outset, the report by Metropolitan Police Commander John Cass makes it clear that there was no chance of any officer being prosecuted over the New Zealand teacher’s death. Some 31,000 man hours were spent trying to get to the bottom of what had happened – and in the end detectives reached the dead end of insufficient evidence.
The death came during the 1979 general election campaign when the National Front was meeting on St George’s Day at Southall, west London. The area was then emerging as one of the capital’s centres of Asian culture.
Anti-racism campaigners turned out in numbers to face down the National Front. And things quickly spiralled out of control. Some 3,000 people were on the streets and some 345 of them were arrested. Almost 100 police officers were injured, along with 65 protesters and members of the public.