Activists to mark death of teacher

A group of activists in Britain is trying to raise support for marking the 30th anniversary next month of the slaying of New Zealand special-needs teacher Blair Peach.

Mr Peach, 33, was allegedly killed by a still-unidentified police officer while demonstrating against the far-right National Front in Southall, West London.

"His friends want to remember his death and I am appealing for people who knew him or were at Southall on the day of his death in April 1979 to contact Friends of Blair Peach," said a spokesman for the group, Terry Fitzpatrick.

The New Zealander's death was still relevant, he said.

The coroner's ruling of "death by misadventure" in the case was important for anyone who took part in a peaceful demonstration, he said, as current law still meant a person could die at the hands of the police and have it described as their own fault for being where they were.

"We are also faced with the threat of the British National Party taking seats in the EU Parliament in June," said Mr Fitzpatrick, who met Mr Peach in 1974 picketing a pub that had refused to serve black people.

"This anniversary should be a reminder that we still confront the same threat from organised racism and fascism for which Blair lost his life opposing."

Police brutality against Mr Peach was never proven, but it was claimed that he suffered a blow from a rubberised police radio belonging to the Metropolitan Police special patrol group.

An inquest in May 1980 returned a verdict of death by misadventure.

A plaque has been erected to the New Zealander at the Phoenix School at Bow in the East End, where he taught for all of the 10 years he was in London.

- NZPA

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