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Diane Abbott under fire for questioning Mark Duggan verdict

QUESTIONS: Diane Abbott (PA)

SENIOR LABOUR politician Diane Abott has been criticised for questioning the conclusion of the Mark Duggan inquest.

Writing on Twitter yesterday (Jan 8) after angry scenes in court as family and supporters vented their rage at the decision, she said: “If the Duggan jury believe that he did not have a gun in his hand when he was shot, how can they find it was a lawful killing?”

She later told BBC Radio 4: “There's going to be a lot of questions asked in the community this evening.

"We really do have to wait to see what the coroner says - the coroner says he has more to say on the way the case was handled - and what the IPCC [Independent Police Complaints Commission] says.

"But there is no question that the Duggan family is unhappy and tonight there will be questions asked."

Henry Smith, a Conservative MP, said the comments were “irresponsible”.

“We have a system of courts in this country. I don’t think it’s appropriate for people to second guess the verdict of a court that has followed due process.

“Given the events of the summer of 2011 community leaders and politicians need to be very careful of their language and not say things that inflame matters.”

Other prominent members of the black community have voiced their discontent at the inquest conclusion.

Lee Jasper, an ex-adviser on race and policing to Ken Livingstone, the former Labour mayor of London, accused the police of “murder”, adding: “It is now open season on black men.”

Deborah Coles, co-director of charity INQUEST referred to the jury’s conclusion as “perverse and incomprehensible.”

She said: “We cannot have a situation where unarmed citizens are shot dead on the streets of London and no one is held to account.

SHOT DEAD: Duggan was "legally killed", according to an inquest jury

“This finding calls into question whether or not families of those who die following the use of force will ever find justice and accountability in the current system.”

Marcia Willis Stewart, solicitor for the Duggan family insisted that officers involved in the case lied.

She said: “Whilst the law provides a defence for an officer to hold an honest and reasonable belief for the purposes of lawful killing, that is not this case. The officer always maintained that he was sure that Mark Duggan had a gun-shaped item in a sock.

“The jury found that there were failings in the way the police conducted the gathering and actioning of evidence. Had they done their job properly this fatal shooting could have been avoided.

“The family will, however, continue the fight for accountability. They will be seeking an urgent meeting with Rachel Cerfontyne of the IPCC, their David Lammy MP, and Keith Vaz MP, in order to ensure the IPCC, who have to date failed in their responsibility with regards to this investigation, carry a vigorous review.”

She added that the family’s lawyers “will be considering the legal position.”

David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham where the 2011 riots broke out, said the Duggan family felt deprived of justice and parts of the verdict were “perplexing and seemingly contradictory”.

But he added: “This was a ten-person jury that heard over three months of evidence, testimonies and expert accounts and took seven days to reach a decision. The issues have been thoroughly discussed and debated, and the jury’s findings should be respected.”

He added: “Policing in this country, as in any democracy, depends on consent, trust and legitimacy. The shooting of Mark Duggan exposed just how fragile these bonds are.”

Duggan was killed in 2011 after being followed by officers who believed he planned to pick up a gun from another man, Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, and then move on to Broadwater Farm, also in Tottenham.

His death sparked widespread rioting in the summer of 2011.

Yesterday jurors at the Royal Courts of Justice concluded that he had been lawfully killed by police, deciding he had thrown away the gun over a fence before he was fatally shot while unarmed.

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