Blair Peach killed in London

23 April 1979

Blair Peach (Wikipedia)

New Zealander Blair Peach died during a clash between police and protesters at a 1979 anti-fascism rally in Southall, London. During the protest, the 33-year-old special-needs teacher and member of the Anti-Nazi League suffered head injuries and died later in hospital.

Peach’s death transformed him into a political martyr in Britain. Just days after the Southall rally, 10,000 people marched past the place where his body had been found, and a similar number of people attended Peach’s funeral in June 1979. In 1986 the Borough of Ealing named a Southall primary school in his honour.

London’s Metropolitan Police Service finally released its report into Peach’s death in 2010. Police investigators concluded that Peach had had his skull crushed by an ‘unauthorised weapon’, possibly a lead cosh or police radio. The blow was ‘almost certainly’ delivered by an officer of its elite riot squad, the Special Patrol Group (SPG), but the individual’s identity could not be determined with certainty because of collusion among SPG members.