Liddle Towers

Liddle Towers (19 September 1936 - 9 February 1976) was an electrician and amateur boxing coach[1] from Chester-le-Street, County Durham, England, who died following a spell in police custody in 1976.[2]

Liddle Towers
Liddle Towers.jpg
Born19 September 1936
Died(1976-02-09)9 February 1976
Dryburn Hospital, County Durham
OccupationElectrician, boxing coach
Known forDeath caused by police action


Towers was arrested outside the Key Club in Birtley on 16 January 1976 by PC Goodner. After a struggle he was put into a dog van by six policemen and taken to Gateshead police station. Later, at 4 am, he was taken from the station to Queen Elizabeth Hospital because he complained of not feeling well, and, after an examination which apparently revealed no injury and nothing wrong with him, he was taken back to the cells. He was discharged later that same morning at 10 o'clock.[3]

Both the taxi driver who took Towers home and his local GP, Alan Powney, who saw him later that day at 2 o'clock, gave evidence that was consistent with Towers' own account of having been assaulted in the cells.[4] Towers told his friend "They gave us a bloody good kicking outside the Key Club, but that was nowt to what I got when I got inside".[3] Towers died on 9 February 1976 at Dryburn Hospital, County Durham.

On 8 October 1976 an inquest into the death of Towers returned a verdict of justifiable homicide. The case had been reported in the national press and the verdict was widely criticised, causing considerable disquiet over both the integrity of the Northumbria Police and of police behaviour and accountability in general. On 3 May 1977, the Attorney-General, in answer to a Written Question from the MP for Chester-le-Street Giles Radice, said that the DPP had "decided that the evidence was not such as to justify the institution of criminal proceedings against any officer". On 8 July the Home Secretary recorded his refusal to set up an inquiry under the provision of S32 Police Act (1964).[3]

The justifiable homicide verdict was appealed and, in June 1978, was set aside by the Queen's Bench Divisional Court, which ordered a new inquest.[5][1][6][7] The second inquest, held in Bishop Auckland in October 1978, reached a verdict of death by misadventure.[8][9]

The Towers case was thought to have influenced the outcome of a similar case from 2009 where a newspaper seller, Ian Tomlinson, was also killed by police.[10]

In popular cultureEdit

Punk band the Angelic Upstarts released a single entitled "The Murder of Liddle Towers" in 1978. Sex Pistols producer Dave Goodman released a record called "Justifiable Homicide". The Tom Robinson Band dedicated their 1979 album, TRB Two to Mary Towers, the mother of Liddle Towers. The song "Blue Murder" on this album relates to the death of Towers.

In 1977, the mod band The Jam were critical of the police in their song "Time for Truth" which contains the lyric "Bring forward the six pigs, We wanna see them swing so high". Skinhead band The Crux also did a song called "Liddle Towers" about the incident.[11]


  1. ^ a b "Police kicked Liddle Towers, inquest is told". Glasgow Herald. 10 October 1978. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  2. ^ "Inquest on Towers may be reopened". Glasgow Herald. 27 May 1978. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "Mr. LIDDLE TOWERS (Hansard)". HOUSE OF COMMONS (LIBRARY). 12 December 1977. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  4. ^ "Policeman 'stood on Towers'". Glasgow Herald. 11 October 1978. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  5. ^ The Times, 29 June 1978
  6. ^ "Judges quash inquest verdict". Glasgow Herald. 29 June 1978. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  7. ^ "inquest verdict to be quashed". Evening Times. 26 May 1978. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  8. ^ The Times, 18 October 1978
  9. ^ "Misadventure verdict on Towers". Glasgow Herald. 18 October 1978. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  10. ^ Baron, Alexander (3 May 2011). "Inquest rules Ian Tomlinson killed unlawfully during UK's G20". Digital Journal. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  11. ^ "Crux". Sounds. 21 May 1983. Retrieved 7 July 2013.

External linksEdit