Mark Duggan: BBC film about man fatally shot by police aims to challenge 'gangster stereotype'

BBC is seeking a young actor to star as Duggan in Lawful Killing

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The Independent Culture

The BBC is advertising for a young actor to star in a drama documentary as Mark Duggan, the Tottenham man who was fatally shot by police in 2011, prompting some of the worst rioting seen in Britain.

The 60-minute film has the working title Lawful Killing, a reference to the verdict of the inquest into Duggan’s death last year. A jury found that Duggan had been unarmed, after tossing away a firearm, but had been lawfully shot twice by a police marksman.

The title of the BBC film and the wording of its advert have attracted criticism, with the Daily Mail suggesting that the inquest verdict was being called into question. “Surely the challenge for the BBC is to agree with a jury’s 2014 findings?” it asked.

In its appeal for actors, the BBC said the intention of the film was to challenge previous media descriptions of Duggan.

“Mark Duggan was not the notorious gunman the press have portrayed him to be; neither was he, as his family readily accept, “an angel”,” it said. “In this film we will try to find the man behind the gangster stereotype and understand the challenges he faced as a young black man from Tottenham’s Broadwater Farm Estate, an area which has lived in a state of semi-permanent siege since the murder of PC Keith Blakelock in 1985.”

The film, which is due to start filming next month, will include interviews with Duggan’s friends and relatives, as well as the police. Following the inquest, Duggan’s family accused the coroner of misleading the jury. Relatives unsuccessfully sought to have the verdict overturned.

A spokesperson for the BBC said: “The film will tell the story from a 360 degree point of view, looking at the 24 hours leading up to the shooting, telling the story from multiple perspectives and asking questions that remain surrounding Mark Duggan's death.”

The docu-drama is also seeking an actor to play Kevin Hutchinson who is serving 11 years for supplying Duggan with a firearm. It is being directed by Jaimie D’Cruz, who made the award-winning art documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop with the graffiti artist Banksy.