Sunday 13 March 2022

The Killing of PC Harper : A Widow’s Fight for Justice

9pm on Tuesday 15th March on ITV

Fronted by Sir Trevor McDonald the documentary sees Lissie Harper allow cameras into her private life for the first time as she talks about how she and Andrew were childhood sweethearts and profound affect his killing has had on her life.  Sir Trevor also meets the lead detective in the case, along with friends, family and press who reported on the case to build the full picture of events.

Just four weeks after his and Lissie’s wedding in 2019, Andrew went to investigate a robbery and never came home.  After getting caught up in the tow rope of a getaway car, PC Harper was dragged for more than a mile at speeds of over 40 mph.  He died at the scene.

Sir Trevor visits the scene of the crime with the Senior investigating officer, DCI Stuart Blaik, who details, along with footage from the night, the horrific events as officers attempted to apprehend the suspects.  Police body cam footage reveals the moment the prime suspects were arrested at a traveller site in the early hours of the following morning.

ITV Reporter, Charlotte Brie Edney recalls being at the crime scene in the immediate aftermath and how the horrific crime dominated national headlines provoking an outpouring of public grief and outrage.  Thames Valley Police’s Chief Constable, John Campbell talks about losing an officer in the line of duty in such tragic circumstances and the impact it had on the force.  

Lissie Harper recalls to Sir Trevor the moment there was a knock at her front door in the middle of the night, and the news that would change her life forever.   And how in the immediate aftermath she had to deal with the death of her husband in the glare of the media spotlight.  

Following an extensive investigation, three weeks after PC Harper’s death police charged three teenagers - Henry Long, 19, Albert Bowers, 18, and Jesse Cole, 18 – with murder. Long admitted manslaughter. Lissie, DS Blaik and other key witnesses talk us through the emotional highs and lows of the trial which took place at the Old Bailey.

Lead Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw QC lays out to Sir Trevor the challenges faced in getting a murder conviction.  Key to the prosecution case, or key to his argument was the expert witness evidence of Simon Hall, a Senior consultant in collision investigation and reconstruction.  Simon recalls how he concluded from the reconstruction that the impact of dragging someone would have had a noticeable impact on the driving of the car both in terms of noise and handling.  The verdict when it came would not be the one the prosecution was looking for as the jury were not convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the defendants knew they were dragging PC Harper.

Lissie reveals the crushing moment the three teenagers were convicted of manslaughter but not murder – and her rage when the killers and their families cheered at the verdict.  Although they were jailed for a combined total of 42 years, the lack of a murder conviction and their apparent lack of remorse, including pictures of them joking outside the trial, pushed Lissie to take drastic action.

Lissie outlines to Sir Trevor how her grief and anger at the sentences evolved into a refusal to be a victim and instead drove her campaign for the introduction of ‘Harper’s Law’ which would see a life sentence for anyone guilty of killing an emergency worker while committing a crime. 

We follow Lissie as she and her campaign manager, Andy Fiddler, a fellow officer of Andrew’s in Thames Valley Police, as they set out to change the law.  There’s a groundswell of support for Harper’s Law including from Government but that is no guarantee of success, and Lissie and her team are frustrated with delays due to lockdown and Cabinet reshuffles.

Finally, after months of pushing, Lissie gets another meeting with the Home Secretary and the Justice Secretary, who confirm that the Government still support the Law and want to attach it to an upcoming Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill.  For Lissie it’s the news she’s been waiting for, confirming the legacy of her husband.  


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