Mark Duggan's family fail High Court bid to overturn 'lawful killing' inquest verdict

He was unarmed when he was shot dead by armed police in August 2011

Lizzie Dearden
Tuesday 14 October 2014 18:52

Mark Duggan’s family have failed in their High Court bid to overturn the inquest finding that he was “lawfully” shot dead by a police officer.

The 29-year-old died in Tottenham, north London, in August 2011 after armed police stopped the taxi he was travelling in.

Protests over the shooting led to riots in London and in other English cities, which his family said they felt they were being “punished” for.

The jury at the four-month inquest that concluded in January found by a majority of eight to two that Mr Duggan was lawfully killed by a police marksman, who was in fear for his life believing he had a gun.

Although he was unarmed when he died, the panel found that Mr Duggan had been carrying a pistol in the cab and thrown it clear as it pulled over.

On Tuesday, three judges at the High Court in London dismissed his mother’s application for a judicial review, rejecting claims that there should have been an open verdict.

Pamela Duggan had alleged that the coroner, Judge Keith Cutler, misdirected the jury.

A photograph of the scene shown as evidence to the jury at the Royal Courts of Justice during the inquest

Sir Brian Leveson, who heard the case with Mr Justice Burnett and Judge Peter Thornton QC, said the court “recognised the tragedy” of the loss of Mr Duggan's life but ruled none of the grounds of challenge had been established.

He said: “As we have sought to make clear, it was not the purpose of the inquest to determine civil liability.

"In civil proceedings the burden of proof and the ingredients are different and may - we do not say must or will - provide a different answer to the very difficult questions posed by this case.”

The decision left the door open for future civil action against the Metropolitan Police and the family have vowed to continue their legal fight.

After the ruling, a lawyer representing Mrs Duggan said she remained “deeply distressed” about her son's death and was lodging an appeal.

His aunt, Carole Duggan, said the family felt “extremely let down and disappointed” and would fight the inquest verdict with “whatever crack, whatever crevice there is”.

A vigil for Mark Duggan was addressed by his aunt, Carole, earlier this year

“We are being punished because of the uprisings of 2011 and are not getting a fair trial,” she said.

“We are not accepting this.The verdict was perverse. It just didn't add up. It didn't make sense. How can somebody who is unarmed be lawfully killed?

"He didn't get a fair hearing."

Mr Duggan’s family were also launching a linked legal challenge before three appeal court judges.

In that case, his mother is seeking a ruling that guidance issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers over officers conferring before giving statements in shooting cases is incompatible with human rights laws.

Questions over whether police notes had been altered or re-written following discussions after Mr Duggan’s death had caused controversy during the inquest.

Following the High Court ruling on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said dealing with people believed to be armed “always carries a risk”.

“Thanks to the professionalism of the officers involved it is very rare that officers fire a shot,” he added.

“We will continue to learn and develop our methods for firearms operations to keep Londoners safe.”

Additional reporting by PA

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