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

Tuesday:The Killing of PC Harper: A Widow’s Fight for Justice; (ITV, 9pm)

Trevor McDonald with PC Andrew Harper's widow Lissie Harper
Trevor McDonald with PC Andrew Harper's widow Lissie Harper

We all know the world can be an unpredictable, sometimes violent place, but many people put their trust in the thin blue line to protect us.

So the death of 28-year-old English police constable Andrew Harper, a member of Thames Valley Police’s road policing unit, shook the nation to its core.

On the night of 15 August 2019, Harper and fellow PC Andrew Shaw responded to a 999 call of a burglary and the theft of a quad bike. The officers responded in an unmarked car, catching up with the suspects in their vehicle at around 11.30pm.

When Andrew ran to investigate the other car, he became caught in a strap that had been used to tow the quad bike. When the car drove off, he was dragged behind it for around one mile, dying from his injuries at the scene.

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In this exclusive documentary, his widow, Lissie, shares her story with Sir Trevor McDonald, from memories of her relationship with Andrew before tragedy struck, to how her grief drove her current campaign for the introduction of ‘Harper’s Law’.

Her husband’s killers, 18-year-old Henry Long and 17-year-olds Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, were found guilty of manslaughter, not murder.

Long was sentenced to 16 years in prison, and both Bowers and Cole to 13 years.

Explaining what was behind her proposed legislation, Lissie says: “Harper’s Law will mean that a person found guilty of killing a police officer, firefighter, nurse, doctor, paramedic or prison officer, as a direct result of a crime they have committed, would be jailed for life.

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“This means that a life sentence would be imposed, asking for a minimum term in prison. Harper’s Law would provide a strong deterrent and an appropriate punishment for committing such a heinous crime.

“I know that if he could, Andrew would be right by my side fighting for this law change… he would want me to get this law passed for all who deserve it.”

Lissie adds: “I’ve never sought the limelight but I recognise being in the public eye is important to highlight why this law change is desperately needed. I think it’s important for the public to see all the hard work that goes into our campaign as part of this documentary.”

The programme also seeks to tell the definitive story of the case, from the first 999 call to the hunt for Andrew’s killers, alongside Lissie’s inspiring fight for justice and the life-changing impact of her husband’s killing.

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Sir Trevor talks to lead detectives in the case, as well as members of the press and wider friends and family, while archive and unseen police interview footage and CCTV are combined to create a complete picture of the tragic events as they unfolded.

Speaking about why he wanted to be involved in this documentary, Sir Trevor said: “The tragic events that happened around the death of PC Andrew Harper shocked the nation.

“To have the opportunity to meet Lissie and hear the impact of his death on her and her family, and report on her ambition to create lasting change, compelled me to be a part of this film.”

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