This entry was posted on Monday, April 27th, 2009 at 3:01 pm and is filed under The War on Stupid.


Callum Winton is a professional photographer who has recently started blogging, and was present at the G20 event where Ian Tomlinson was assaulted by a disguised police officer and later died.

I need to note from the outset that Winton appears to have been present for the entire event, but clearly did not witness the actual assault itself.

This footage taken by a member of the public and passed to the IPCC and the Guardian newspaper includes footage of the photographer, as he notes himself on his blog:

“New footage has been released of the Ian Tomlinson incident …. and in it plain as day is wee me taking pictures (long black coat, white shirt, blue jeans). http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2009/apr/21/g20-ian-tomlinson-new-video” – Callum Winton on his blog (source)

This first screen capture (00:31) shows Winton walking past Tomlinson as the police line advances toward them:

screen capture from video: click to play

The assault is not captured in this footage, but the camera swings around just in time to catch Tomlinson hitting the ground, and to show that Winton’s view of Tomlinson is blocked by a building/pillar. This second screen capture (00:49 and 01:05) and shows Winton seemingly unaware of Tomlinson’s assault as he turns away to inspect his camera:

screen capture from video: click to play

Note how Callum Winton is oblivious to the crowd’s reaction to the event.

Note also that the police are herding the public, which leads to the assault preceding Tomlinson’s collapse.

The first Tomlinson video to be released will help you to better appreciate these aspects and the general surroundings/mood at the time of the assault.

Also, please keep in mind that something between 3 to 5 minutes passes (timeline) before Tomlinson collapses after walking off in the same direction as Winton.

So, time passes, and Tomlinson collapses. Callum Winton does not witness the collapse, but happens across the prone figure of Tomlinson. He takes some pictures, notices the man is not well, then goes back to the police line and alerts them to Tomlinson’s condition:

“When I was there I found a man that had collapsed. I took a couple of pics of him and then I realised he was in trouble. So I ran and got the police, but by the time we got back I think he’d passed away.” – Callum Winton on his blog (source)

Callum Winton then returns to the scene of Tomlinson’s collapse at the same time as the police.

Compare the picture taken upon his return showing the woman protestor treating Tomlinson to this other video provided to the Guardian newspaper, where four things can be seen in quick succession:

00:10 – The woman protestor treating Tomlinson is moved away by police, who proceed to treat Tomlinson themselves

00:18 – A single clear (probably plastic) bottle is thrown, angering and dismaying the crowd

00:23 – Callum Winton, now on the other side of Tomlinson, can be seen no more than 12-15ft feet from where that single missile landed (after striking a police officer on the arm at about waist height)

00:25 – Mr ‘Back The Fuck Up’ swings into action, making it clear to those not within immediate earshot that someone is hurt. The crowd is unhappy, but eager to cooperate. No other missiles are captured in the footage.

It is at this stage that we turn to a Sun article published the day after this event.

Callum Winton appears to be the single source for this entire article, pictures and all, though when he blogs about it, he appears to be quite surprised:

“A new day and a new surprise. One of the pics I took of the man last night was used by The Sun newspaper on pg.6″ – Callum Winton on his blog (source)

(Note – Mr Winton later blogs that he intends to donate the “fair price for any freelance images they’ve used” to charity.)

The best I can make out from what’s been published by The Sun, and what’s been published and claimed by Callum Winton, is that a Sun reporter took a statement at some stage and Winton was unaware that he was doing so and/or was unaware that the man taking it was a Sun reporter or somehow connected to that newspaper. However it happened, Callum Winton winds up as the only named witness in a short article also containing his pictures:

Keen tabloid observers will note the headline that might suggest to casual observers that it was the bottles themselves that killed Tomlinson.

Also, take note of the claim that beer bottles and cans were thrown, as we’ll be getting back to this shortly:

The Sun – Man dies as bottles lobbed at rescuers (2 Apr, 2009)

POLICE were battered with beer bottles and cans as they desperately tried to save a dying man at the height of the G20 riots in London last night.

The casualty, believed to be in his mid-40s, was knocked to the floor amid the mob near the Bank of England.

But when cops struggled through the crowd to reach him, they were pelted with missiles. They finally got to him and set up a cordon as two ambulances rushed to the scene.

Officers gave the man mouth-to-mouth before paramedics tried in vain to save him.

Photographer Callum Winton, 37, said: “A guy was lying on the ground. His eyes were glazed over, he didn’t look at all well.

“I told the police and they tried to reach him — but were being forced back by the protesters. There were bottles and missiles raining down on them.”

The man, shaven headed and wearing a Millwall FC top with a grey T-shirt over the top, died at the scene.

Callum added: “Police were trying to break up the crowd, which was getting out of control, throwing things at buildings.

“Officers charged and pushed them back to get them away from buildings. It was chaos.”

Please take care to note that while this article does so poorly and is prone to misinterpretation, it does relate a sequence of a events where police were pelted with multiple missiles prior to their treatment of Tomlinson, and not during as some people have been suggesting.

The police, for example, claimed at one stage that they felt compelled to move Mr Tomlinson because of the missiles thrown during his treatment:

“The officers took the decision to move him as during this time a number of missiles – believed to be bottles – were being thrown at them.” – Met statement (source)

And Callum Winton made a similar claim on his weblog on the day of the event:

screen capture from Callum's blog

“I took [this picture] while the police were working on reviving the man amid flying bottles and breaking glass.” – Callum Winton on his blog (source)

At or about the same time that Callum Winton was taking this picture (large version), the video footage described above showing the cordon/treatment of Tomlinson was being captured from almost directly behind him:

screen capture from video: click to play

Callum Winton is unlikely to have seen and heard something very different to what was captured on video here, because as Winton himself has confirmed via email, he is in the foreground of the video footage while looking at the same event (i.e. he sees and hears the almost the same visual and audio information that the camera records).

That video footage shows a single clear bottle being thrown. That bottle does not appear to smash on impact, and is most likely plastic from what we can see/hear of the footage.

The police were certainly not “working on reviving the man amid flying bottles and breaking glass”, unless the mood changed quite suddenly after this footage was taken just in time for Callum Winton to capture the image he claims to have taken “amid flying bottles and breaking glass” (that doesn’t actually show any flying bottles or breaking/broken glass) just before the police moved Tomlinson to avoid the “number* of missiles” being thrown a them.

(*People sometimes forget that ‘one’ is a number.)

I’ve since emailed Callum Winton and asked him about a few of these conflicts and inconsistencies:

1. Three times he avoided answering a specific question about him being the likely/implied source of the claim that beer bottles and cans were thrown. He would not confirm or deny being the source of this claim, but I should point out that it’s just as likely that this was added as (ahem) a dramatic touch by someone at The Sun with an active if limited imagination and/or an anti-protestor agenda. (Callum Winton’s statements on his blog also make it clear that he did not see Tomlinson being ‘knocked down’ by the mob or anyone else.)

2. Callum Winton claimed that “3 Bottles were thrown. No cans.” and that “they were thrown and hit the building above our heads so that we were showered in glass.” He also pointed out, as he did in his statement to The Sun, that “all the protestors turned against the people throwing them shouting at them to stop as the police medics were trying to help Mr.T”, so while he appears to be describing the same events seen in this video, there are a number of glass missiles that should be visible and audible (according to his account), but are not.

3. I say ‘glass missiles‘ because Mr Winton also stated that he did not actually see any missiles in their pre-impact state. He could only say that “it was glass in one form or another” and “solid like bottles”. So The Sun article opens with a paragraph stating that; “police were battered with beer bottles and cans”… but the only named witness in that article did not see any cans thrown and was not in a position to identify any missile as a beer bottle specifically, or even as a glass bottle generally.

Mr Winton had nothing of relevance to add after seeing the video footage that casts so much doubt on his version of events, but he did take the time to assure me that it was suddenly none of my business, and that if I wished to speak with him further it would have to be on a professional basis:

“I’m a working photographer, so if you want a couple of hours of my time then you can book me for a portrait session. You bring bottles and I’ll bring a camera ;o)” – Callum Winton

I think that last part may have been a joke, but being a humourless lefty I can’t really be sure.

Anyway, just between you and me and everyone else who thinks this is their business, I suspect that Callum Winton might be a little bit confused.

I don’t mean that in a nasty ‘mental’ tag way, I mean… well, just take a look at this account of Winton’s as related by The Sun:

(Do keep in mind that the police line Winton returns to is in the process of herding the crowd as part of a kettling operation, and that they drove Tomlinson before them after one of their number had assaulted him. In other words, the police have contributed to Tomlinson’s condition, and created the circumstances that allegedly make it difficult to reach him. All of this applies regardless of what is thrown where and when.)

But when cops struggled through the crowd to reach him, they were pelted with missiles. They finally got to him and set up a cordon as two ambulances rushed to the scene… Photographer Callum Winton, 37, said: “A guy was lying on the ground. His eyes were glazed over, he didn’t look at all well. I told the police and they tried to reach him — but were being forced back by the protesters. There were bottles and missiles raining down on them.” – Callum Winton as quoted by The Sun

Now, this statement and the way it’s presented/introduced allows for (and appears to specifically, if clumsily, describe) circumstances where multiple glass missiles and/or bottles were thrown and/or police were impeded to some extent some distance from Tomlinson, before he was surrounded and treated by police. But remember that the day before it was published, Callum Winton had written on his weblog that he had witnessed this barrage of missiles during the period in which he was surrounded/treated by police:

“I took [this picture] while the police were working on reviving the man amid flying bottles and breaking glass.” – Callum Winton on his blog (source)

The evidence would suggest that Callum missed the assault and the collapse, but then happened across the (lone?) prone figure of Ian Tomlinson, took a few pictures, went to get help, witnessed the smashing of bottles at some stage some distance away from Tomlinson, before returning to witness the treatment of Tomlinson by police, seeing a single plastic bottle thrown at that moment and later compressing/conflating the two events to unfortunate effect.

The “beer bottles and cans” are likely to be a fanciful addition to the tale courtesy of the tabloid press, but it is equally possible that Callum Winton registered the way Ian Tomlinson looked or smelled (and/or the people around him talking of Tomlinson’s drunken state) on some level, conscious or not, and simply added the word ‘beer’ to ‘bottle’ without even thinking about what this might imply.

Winton had not witnessed the assault and did not even register the crowd’s reaction to it (which is a likely cause of any extraordinary disturbance Winton describes when he goes to fetch the police from the same location where police have stood by after one of their own assaulted a member of the public).

Further, Winton appears to be a stranger to the lifestyle of Ian Tomlinson and your typical socially-conscious protestor**. It would be very easy for a man in his position to confuse, blur or totally misunderstand the relationship between an apparently drunken man and a crowd that appears (to him) to be angry for no good reason.

(**Note – on the latter, he has consistently described the day as “the G20 riots” in his communication with me.)

So please understand that I’m not judging or demonising Mr Winton, but I really think that he should spend some time thinking about the statements he has volunteered to the newspapers and to the IPCC, and seriously considering clarifying them, at least to the extent that they don’t appear quite so contradictory.

And I’m not going to hold my breath, but The Sun really needs to withdraw that claim that “police were battered with beer bottles and cans as they desperately tried to save a dying man” if they can’t produce a witness or evidence to back it up.

Ditto for any implication that he was “knocked to the floor amid the mob” by anyone but a policeman.