Lissie Harper’s ‘long, hard journey’ to victory: Widow of hero police officer Andrew Harper tells of her battle for tougher sentences for criminals who kill emergency service workers after her meeting with Boris Johnson
- Lissie Harper said she was ‘relieved’ ministers agreed to introduce Harper’s Law
- It will see mandatory life sentences for those who take the lives of police
- Labour confirmed it will support Harper’s Law when it is voted on by Parliament
The widow of hero police officer Andrew Harper has described the ‘long, hard journey’ to secure tough new sentences for criminals who kill emergency services workers.
Lissie Harper, who met Boris Johnson at No 10 yesterday, said she was ‘relieved’ that ministers had agreed to introduce Harper’s Law, which will see mandatory life sentences for those who take the lives of police and other 999 workers, plus nurses and doctors.
Labour, which has opposed a series of the Government’s law and order measures, confirmed it will support Harper’s Law when it is voted on by Parliament.
The widow of hero police officer Andrew Harper has described the ‘long, hard journey’ to secure tough new sentences for criminals who kill emergency services workers
Lissie Harper (right), who met Boris Johnson (left) at No 10 yesterday, said she was ‘relieved’ that ministers had agreed to introduce Harper’s Law, which will see mandatory life sentences for those who take the lives of police and other 999 workers, plus nurses and doctors
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab also met Mrs Harper yesterday and paid tribute to her ‘tenacity’ during the 15-month campaign.
Mr Raab told her: ‘I think you’ve shone a light on something which is really important, so I’m just really pleased we can support you and get this done. You’ve got a huge amount of support in the country, in the House of Commons, and all because of the tenacity you’ve shown.’
Turning to a representative of the Police Federation, which has supported the campaign, Mrs Harper said: ‘We’re both really happy to reach this point.
‘It’s been a long, hard journey. We’re just relieved, I think.
‘It’s something we knew we would get to this point because we’re just very determined, but the amount of support that people are showing as well just proves how much everyone wants it.’
Mr Raab said: ‘You can breathe hopefully a bit of a sigh of relief – we’re pretty confident we’ve got all the support in the House of Commons but also in the House of Lords. I’m pretty confident we’ll be able to deliver for you.’
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said Harper’s Law will ‘bring lasting change’ and Labour will support it.
The three killers of 28-year-old PC Harper escaped with sentences as low as 13 years – and smirked in the dock.
They were cleared of murdering the Thames Valley constable but convicted of his manslaughter, after dragging him behind their vehicle for more than a mile.
His legs became entangled in a strap attached to a Seat Toledo driven by Henry Long, then 19. After a trial, Long was sentenced to 16 years. He could be freed after serving two-thirds of the sentence – or ten years and eight months.
The three killers of 28-year-old PC Andrew Harper (right) escaped with sentences as low as 13 years – and smirked in the dock
Passengers Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both then 18, will be entitled to automatic release after serving eight years and eight months of their 13-year terms.
The Court of Appeal rejected a bid by the Attorney General to increase their sentences, and the three have received more than £700,000 in legal aid.
Broadly, the new law will introduce mandatory life sentences for cases where offenders are cleared of murdering an emergency services worker but are convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter. Judges will be allowed to waive the minimum life term in only the most ‘exceptional’ cases where it would be ‘unjust’.
The change will not be retrospective, meaning it will not affect PC Harper’s killers.
Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: ‘Police officers and staff… very often have to place themselves in harm’s way and tragically, as we all saw with the loss of PC Andrew Harper, that can result in the ultimate sacrifice. Officers and staff deserve the full protection of the criminal justice system.’