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'Tell us who killed Blair Peach': Anti-racism campaigner's friend urges Met to name killer on 40th anniversary of his death

PUBLISHED: 10:00 07 May 2019

John Lockwood, a friend of Blair Peach's, speaks to the audience. Picture: TOWER HAMLETS SUTR

John Lockwood, a friend of Blair Peach's, speaks to the audience. Picture: TOWER HAMLETS SUTR

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An anti-racism campaigner's friend has vowed supporters will never give up their fight to get his killer named 40 years after his death at the hands of police.

Anti-racism campaign group Stand Up To Racism organised a meeting to mark 40 years since Blair Peach's death. Picture: TOWER HAMLETS SUTRAnti-racism campaign group Stand Up To Racism organised a meeting to mark 40 years since Blair Peach's death. Picture: TOWER HAMLETS SUTR

John Lockwood spoke at a public meeting at the Muslim Centre in Whitechapel Road to mark the anniversary of Blair Peach's death following a race riot in April 1979.

Mr Lockwood said: “Blair did not give his life. When he was killed so brutally he was attempting to go home to his loved ones.

“The police tell us they can't find out who killed Blair. We need to say to them, tell us who killed Blair.”

Mr Peach taught at Phoenix School in Bow and was the president of the East London Teachers' Association.

People heard about Blair Peach's life, legacy and the parallels between Britain in the 1970s and today. Picture: TOWER HAMLETS SUTRPeople heard about Blair Peach's life, legacy and the parallels between Britain in the 1970s and today. Picture: TOWER HAMLETS SUTR

He was knocked over the head following a demonstration against the far right political party, National Front, in Southall. He died a day later.

An investigation by commander John Cass of the Met's complaints investigation bureau concluded he had probably been killed by one of six special patrol group (SPG) officers.

The SPG was a Met unit tasked with tackling serious public disorder.

Mr Lockwood described how he met Mr Peach when they were teaching in the East End in 1978.

“Blair was the sage who we looked up to,” he said.

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He described racists ploughing into him and Blair in one attack outside Whitechapel station.

“As we picked ourselves up, Blair said to me, 'I'll never be any good at this street fighting'.

“The truth is none of us were street fighters. But we had 13 million trade unionists to whom we could go and say, 'Stand shoulder to shoulder with us'.”

Recalling their last conversation, he described confessing to Blair he would not be at the Southall demo.

“Blair was not impressed. The word 'dilettante' was used. I was outraged,” he said.

But then Blair – a 'master of the wind up' – laughed out loud at the tease.

And Mr Lockwood described the period following Blair's death as 'extremely dark' repeating his call for justice.

John McLoughlin from Tower Hamlets UNISON said: “It's important to remember [Blair's] role, but also the parallels with what we face today and the need to continue organising against racism.”

A Met spokesman said: “In 2011, the then commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, expressed his 'deep regret' that after more than three decades we were still unable to provide the family and friends of Blair Peach with definitive answers regarding the terrible circumstances of his death.

“This remains a matter of great regret for the Met but it is important to recognise the changes that have occurred in policing since 1979.”

The meeting was organised by campaign group, Stand Up To Racism.

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