Partner of man killed by Met officers calls for investigation to be made public

16Jun09

blair-peachoriginally published: 13th June 2009

Ten thousand people crowded into the East End cemetery on a warm June morning to see his pine coffin lowered into the ground, 30 years ago today.

Blair Peach had been dead for 51 days. By the time the Metropolitan police released the body for burial the anger about what happened to him had spread across the world. A 33-year-old teacher from New Zealand, he had almost certainly been killed by a police officer, his skull crushed with an unauthorised weapon as he tried to walk home from an anti-fascist demonstration.

The death had transformed Peach, an activist in the Anti-Nazi League, into a political martyr. “I wanted privacy, but in the end I was glad it had become a public event,” said Celia Stubbs, his partner of 10 years. Now 68 and living in Brighton, her recollections of that day still bring tears.

Today, coinciding with the anniversary of the funeral, Stubbs will launch a campaign to release a secret police document produced by the Met commander who investigated Peach’s death. She is sure it holds the answer to the 30-year mystery surrounding events on a surburban street in Southall, west London, on the evening of 23 April 1979.

John Cass, who retired to live in Wales 20 years ago, has told the Guardian he is not opposed to his findings being made public. Disclosure of the document would finally reveal the names of the officers he considered suspects.

The Peach case was a seminal moment and, like the deaths decades later of Stephen Lawrence and Jean Charles de Menezes, triggered a crisis in policing.

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