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Calls for a public inquiry into the death of East End teacher Blair Peach

PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:33 17 June 2019

Demonstrators with posters of Blair Peach staging a silent protest outside Fulham Town Hall in 1979. Pic: PA

Demonstrators with posters of Blair Peach staging a silent protest outside Fulham Town Hall in 1979. Pic: PA

Archant

Calls have been made for a public inquiry into the death of an East End teacher who died at the hands of the police 40 years ago.

John Lockwood, a friend of Blair Peach's, has vowed to continue the fight. Picture: TOWER HAMLETS SUTRJohn Lockwood, a friend of Blair Peach's, has vowed to continue the fight. Picture: TOWER HAMLETS SUTR

Blair Peach, who taught at the Phoenix School in Bow, was hit over the head by police during a rally against the far-right National Front in Southall, west London.

He died a few hours later on April 23, 1979.

An investigation by commander John Cass of the Met Police's complaints investigation bureau concluded the 33-year-New Zealander had probably been killed by one of six special patrol group (SPG) officers.

However the 'Cass report' was criticised as it contained redactions.

Onkar Sahot, London Assembly member for Ealing and Hillingdon which covers Southall, has tabled a motion calling for London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Jennette Arnold, LA chairwoman to write to the Home Secretary Sajid Javid and request a public enquiry.

His motion has been seconded by Unmesh Desai, LA member for City and East which covers Tower Hamlets.

Onkar said in the motion: "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.

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"The realities of what happened 40 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 for an unredacted version of the Cass report."

Last month friends of Blair called on the police to name his killer as they marked the 40th anniversary of his death.

John Lockwood, who met Blair when they were teaching in Tower Hamlets in 1978, said: "The police tell us they can't find out who killed Blair. We need to say to them, tell us who killed Blair."

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."

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