Police add insult to injury in Mason case
In a shocking display of insensitivity the Metropolitan Police yesterday evening (18 March 2015) announced to the media they would not refer the case of Michael Mason to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). This followed an announcement made only six days ago, shortly before a vigil marking a year since Michael's death, that the Met would refer the case to the CPS. This u-turn was broadly welcomed by the Cyclists Defence Fund (CDF), Michael’s family and other campaigners for justice.
Michael Mason (70) was hit from behind by a driver on Regent Street on 25 February 2014 and died on 14 March, 19 days after the incident. The police decided not to press charges against the driver, despite the fact that she could not explain why she did not see Michael when many other witnesses had.
Although the police did not break any rules when they failed to consult the CPS on the decision not to charge, their action went against charging guidance, and the CDF has been fighting for answers as to why this decision was made.
Detective Inspector Nick Mason in his final review of the case and reasons for not referring this case to the CPS, stated “He [Michael Mason] was not wearing any high visibility clothing, nor was he wearing a safety helmet though his bicycle was displaying a red light at the rear and a white light on the front.”
CTC and the CDF believe the suggestion that the chances of a guilty verdict are somehow lessened because Michael Mason was not wearing hi-viz clothing or a helmet is legally irrelevant and should have no bearing on the charging decision. Furthermore, such a statement can be seen as tantamount to victim blaming.
The Met’s erratic briefings to the media – without informing the bereaved family or their lawyer –shows unbelievable incompetence and insensitivity.”
Rhia Weston, Cyclists’ Defence Fund
Such reasoning by the Met has drawn widespread condemnation on Twitter and other public forums, not just for their decision but also their handling. The first the family and their representation learned about the Met’s sudden reversal was via a circular sent to the media which stated: “We have previously stated that the below matter was referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions. This is incorrect. No referral has been made.”
With the avenue of public prosecution now seemingly closed, there is a real urgency for action to take up a private prosecution. Rhia Weston Coordinator of the Cyclists' Defence Fund said:
“The Cyclists’ Defence Fund will now support Michael Mason’s family in instructing lawyers to build the case for a private prosecution as soon as possible. We are therefore renewing our call for donations to the ‘Justice for Michael’ appeal.”
So far the CDF has raised £9,875 to support the case of Michael Mason’s family, but with a target of £30,000 to cover the estimated legal costs has some way further to go. You can help support the family and their case by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/justiceformichael