A police watchdog investigator admits a “mistake” was made in releasing information suggesting Mark Duggan fired on officers before he was killed.
Mr Duggan was shot dead after armed officers stopped the minicab the suspected gangster was travelling in. His death led to rioting in Tottenham, north London, in August 2011 – with disorder spreading around the country.
At a pre-inquest hearing into the death of the 29-year-old, Michael Mansfield QC, representing Mr Duggan’s family, questioned Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigator Colin Sparrow.
Mr Mansfield said “misinformation suggesting some form of shoot-out” was broadcast after Mr Duggan died. He asked if this had been “a serious mistake”. Mr Sparrow said it “wasn’t accurate” and “was a mistake”.
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Initial reports that Mr Duggan had fired at police were later dismissed by ballistic tests and Scotland Yard apologised to his family for the “distress” caused to them after the shooting.
Mr Mansfield said the family had lost faith in the investigation into his death. “The problem for the family is a complete breakdown in confidence for this investigation. While normally this question might not have to be asked because confidence is automatic, on this occasion, from the beginning, there has been misinformation, a lack of information, and conflicting information.”
The problem for the family is a complete breakdown in confidence. Michael Mansfield QC
The hearing in north London was told that a gun initially linked to Mr Duggan was found 14ft away from the crime scene, on the other side of a fence. Mr Mansfield said witnesses had said they had seen a police officer throw the weapon there.
He asked: “How on earth did the gun get over a fence 14ft away? Was it thrown there by a police officer?” Mr Sparrow said: “That’s a suggestion, yes.”
Mr Mansfield said that Mr Duggan’s blood, DNA and fingerprints were not found on the gun.
Coroner Andrew Walker told the hearing that the full inquest into Mr Duggan’s death would last between four and eight weeks and aim to begin in September 2012.