UNANSWERED: Questions remain over the circumstances in how Duggan was killed by police
JUDGE CUTLER, overseeing the inquest into Mark Duggan’s, set “the early part of September this year” as the new date for the full inquiry to begin. Cutler, presiding over a pre-inquest review on January 28 at the Coroner’s Court in Barnet, north London, decided not to schedule an exact date, but said it would be determined over the “next seven days” after consultation with all parties involved.
The preliminary duration and venue of the inquest was agreed upon as being six to eight weeks at the Royal Courts of Justice, central London. If that location were not available, suggestions were put forward for the courts in either in Wood Green or Harrow, both in north London.
The full inquest, originally scheduled to take place on January 28, was indefinitely delayed “because of issues about sensitive material”, according to INQUEST, the organisation helping the Duggan family through the legal process.
Duggan – whose “death is widely seen as being the catalyst of the rioting in London and elsewhere, in August 2011,” Ashley Underwood QC for INQUEST told the judge – was shot and fatally wounded by armed police in Tottenham on August 4, 2011.
He was travelling as a passenger inside a minicab on Ferry Lane around 6pm when police intervened and stopped the vehicle. The current version of what happened next is that Duggan alighted from the vehicle and was then shot twice – one bullet struck his right arm, the other, hitting his chest, inflicted the fatal wounded.
The entire truth behind Duggan’s death remains elusive – police maintain Duggan was shot because he was armed with a pistol and posed an immediate threat to officers in the vicinity, while other versions claim the 29-year-old was unarmed and presented no danger.
Duggan was under observation by an intelligence-led operation by the Met’s Trident division, which were investigating gang-related activity in the area and believed Duggan had come into possession of a firearm.
The overarching purpose of the inquest, which must be carried out when a person is killed by state agents, is to ensure “the full facts are brought to light”, as stipulated by Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
BEREAVED: Pamela Duggan, left, outside the court with Shaun Hall, middle, Carole Duggan, and Marcia Willis Stewart, the family solicitor, far right - photo: Bart Chan
The pre-inquest review, attended by Duggan family members – including Duggan’s mother, Pamela Duggan – and representative legal teams from the police and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), was called in order for the judge to direct the agenda for the full inquest, taking into account measures each interested party would like implemented.
Michael Mansfield QC for the Duggan family told the judge: “The family have lost confidence in the IPCC. And they have good reason; they were seriously misled.
“It started off on the wrong foot. Since then the right foot has not been put forward,” he said, alluding to delaying tactics from police and the IPCC.
“I don’t like to say it, [but] we’ve been here before. The narrative is littered by misdemeanours of those investigating the case,” Mansfield added.
The family barrister lambasted the IPCC for having not completed their report, labelling it a “ludicrous” and “lamentable” situation.
Robin Tam QC, representing the IPCC, told the judge that the retrial of Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, accused of supplying Duggan with the alleged pistol recovered at the scene of Duggan’s death (but not on his person), is ongoing and could lead to new evidence emerging. He refused to provide an approximate date of when the IPCC would complete its report, but said “it is at an advanced stage.”
Outside the court after the review concluded, Pamela Duggan said: “I’m glad I got the response to have my son’s inquest in September, and I hope it stays in September, because I want to know how he died.
“I don’t rate them [IPCC] at all. They’ve never given me help or support,” she added after saying her faith in the process had still not been restored.
Duggan’s brother, Shaun Hall, said: “We’ve been waiting for a thorough investigation, and it seems that all we’ve been given so far is hogwash by the IPCC. We are no closer to knowing what has happened to our family member than we were in the beginning.”
The family’s solicitor, Marcia Willis Stewart, said: “The family are really concerned as to the delay. We have put these issues in front of the coroner over a year ago. We are heartened that a date has been put forward, and I’d echo the family’s sentiment that matters really can be heard in September before a jury.”