from the Mikey Powell Campaign
22nd December 2009
An article that appeared on The Telegraph website caused upset and anger prompting the family of Mikey, their legal team, INQUEST and supporters to complain in their droves.
Legal representatives have written to the news group stating; “Alasdair Palmer’s article on the Michael Powell inquest (‘The Michael Powell case shows how charges of racism hobble the police’, December 20) was riddled with grave factual inaccuracies, which masked the important issues this case raised, and which has provoked a raft of entirely misconceived, offensive and racist comments on your website as a result”.
Tippa Naphtali, a cousin of Mikey, infuriated by the inaccuracies wrote the following to the editor of the group:
The Michael Powell case shows how charges of racism hobble the police
Published: 19th December 2009
“This article written by Alasdair Palmer is a vile and gross misrepresentation of the facts in this case, and indeed of the findings of the inquest jury. It is little wonder given this fact that so many of your readers have decided to slate the family and their legal representatives in the subsequent comments.
“Your paper, like all others, has a duty to report factually and with reference to proven events and records. Your article has done neither of these”.
To point out some of your inaccuracies:
‘Mr Powell had a history of mental instability and had been a user of crack cocaine’
“Mikey had a few isolated breakdowns over many many years. He held down a responsible job without ever taking sick leave over a number of years. Your piece would suggest to readers that he was an habitual drug user and this is simply not the case and was proven so during the inquest”.
‘His terrified mother called the police’
“Mikey’s mother was not terrified – she was concerned for the welfare of her son when she called the police. Again, the inquest showed that this was the case and that at no time was she concerned for her safety”.
‘The police turned up quickly and tried, but failed, to subdue Mr Powell: their use of CS spray backfired, disabling the officers who deployed it rather than Mr Powell’
“You have failed to mention critical factors here: 1) that attending officers drove their car into Mikey 2) that he was already under restraint by a family friend when he was sprayed with CS gas 3) the amount of CS Gas used far exceeded the police own guidelines”.
‘Three pathologists conducted two separate post-mortem examinations. They concluded that his death was not due to any injury caused by the police’
“There were in fact more than three pathologists that examined Mikey and they did not conclude that his death was not due to any injury caused by the police. In actual fact they could not agree on a cause of death, which is largely why it was difficult to prove a case of unlawful killing”.
‘The family’s team of lawyers managed to re-open the inquest, get their case funded by legal aid and argue that, had it not been for police racism, Michael Powell would still be alive today’
“The inquest was not re-opened. It had been adjourned due to the criminal trial. The police officers were also funded by tax payer’s money and to a far greater degree; I hear no mention of that! And in any event, what exactly is a life worth?
“The family were entitled to get answers to question that were never addressed, as they were entitled to legal aid to pursue those answers.
“This case was not primarily about race, it was about the treatment of a sick and vulnerable man, and the police failings in their duty of care to him.
“An inquest jury plainly did not believe their version of events and there goes the key issue in this case”.
‘But although they rejected – after deliberating for two days – the allegations that the way officers restrained him had caused his death, it took the inquest a month and a half, and at least a million pounds in lawyers’ fees, to come to a conclusion already reached by two post-mortem examinations, a trial, and an investigation by the IPCC’
“You are completely wrong in this statement. The jury found that the method of restraint WAS the cause of Mikey’s death. The post-mortems, the trial and the IPCC investigation did not in fact shed any light on Mikey’s cause of death. The inquest was held specifically to determine those facts, and it has.
“You seem determined to vilify Mikey and his family whilst not recognising that police officers are capable of wrong doing just like anyone else.
“You have chosen to stoke up a race issue as a central feature of this death when in truth what is at the heart of it is the death of a father of three who was having a breakdown and needed help”.