Blair Peach in the press: “Peach riot PC ‘grew a beard’” (8 April 1980)

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Amanda Leon, one of the witnesses at the Inquest, had travelled to Southall with Blair Peach and had been with him on Beechcroft Avenue. Leon told the Inquest that she heard police sirens and saw a row of a row of police officers with shields and truncheons ready to charge. She saw a police officer hit Peach from behind on the head, with a truncheon. She too was then hit by a different officer, and was later seen in hospital with a lump on her head. The papers disclosed with the Cass report show that on their count six demonstrators received head injuries on 23 April, three of them (Peach, Leon and an un-named middle-aged Asian man) on Beechcroft or Orchard Avenues (Cass, enclosures, page 259), although given the large numbers of protesters reporting that the received similar blows to the head at Park View Road, it is likely that the real figures ran into several dozens.

The press coverage of her evidence went into the conduct of an unknown Officer who, Leon claimed, had grown a beard in order to avoid identification. It seems most likely from the Cass report that this was “Officer E”, Inspector Murray, who had attended for duty in August 1979 with a black eye, which he claimed to have suffered while playing badminton, and with a beard (Cass, enclosures, page 607, 617).

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