A coroner threatened the independent police watchdog with contempt of court yesterday for withholding documents from its own investigation into the fatal shooting by police of Mark Duggan.
The fatal shooting of the young black man by a specialist police team in August last year was the spark that led to nights of rioting in major urban centres – but it emerged in March that an inquest into the death may never be held. Andrew Walker, the coroner, said yesterday that he was no closer to deciding whether it could go ahead than in March and in angry exchanges called on the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to hand over documents within 28 days.
"I am being told, if I understand it correctly, that I am not being copies of the statements and evidence [the IPCC] have gathered until they choose to give it," Mr Walker said. "My statutory obligation is being undermined, is that not a contempt of court?"
He said that he had received the first statements from police officers, but nothing from those investigating the shooting by the specialist police team which had trailed the car carrying Mr Duggan to Tottenham, north London. Robin Tam, QC, representing the IPCC, said: "We take the view that it would be unhelpful and potentially misleading to be drip-feeding disclosure."
If the IPCC refuses the family may force a judicial review of the case. The inquest has been delayed because of a separate court case over the gun that was allegedly passed to Mr Duggan, and was said to have been found close to where he died wrapped inside a sock.
The coroner has also not been able to see documents, understood to relate to evidence from a phone tap in the run-up to the police operation, which by law cannot be shown to an inquest. It has led to calls from senior police officers, the IPCC, MPs and the family for a change in the law. Mr Walker will decide later this year if the inquest can go ahead or a different inquiry takes its place.
The family has been harshly critical of the IPCC investigation and yesterday called for the resignation of the senior investigator and the abolition of the organisation. The dead man's aunt, Carole Duggan, said: "There is a lot of anger from the family because we are almost 11 months down the line and we are still no further on, we know nothing more than we did last August. "They [the IPCC] are incompetent and they should be abolished… we do not trust them, they have to be abolished."Reuse content