Mark Duggan inquest: Q&A

As an inquest into the death of Mark Duggan - which sparked the England riots - ends, what were the issues and background to the case?

Mark Duggan Mark Duggan died after being shot by police in Tottenham, north London

What happened to Mark Duggan?

Mark Duggan was a 29-year-old man from Tottenham in north London. He was shot dead by armed police in Ferry Lane, Tottenham, at 18:15 BST on 4 August 2011.

He had been travelling in a minicab when he was stopped by the armed unit as part an intelligence-led operation against a gang called Tottenham Man Dem.

He got out of the vehicle and one officer shot him twice. Police say Mr Duggan was holding a gun, which they believed he had collected about 15 minutes earlier. But the only civilian witness to the shooting to give evidence at the inquest said it looked like "an execution". Mr Duggan had a phone not a gun in his hand, the witness said, and appeared to be surrendering with his hands in the air when he was shot. The gun was later found some 20ft (6m) away.

When the police are involved in a death, the law says there must be either an inquest or some form of open inquiry to establish what happened and why.

Tottenham on fire during riots The incorrect suggestion Mark Duggan himself had fired at police sparked protests - and then riots - in Tottenham and elsewhere

What happened after Mr Duggan's death?

His family say they were not formally notified of his death, and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) later apologised because it initially suggested incorrectly to the media that Mr Duggan had fired at police.

A day-and-a-half after the shooting, protesters marched to Tottenham police station. The protest was followed by violence which turned into rioting.

The rioting spread across London and others parts of England in what became some of the worst disturbances in decades. More than 3,000 people eventually ended up in court across the country.

Photograph of a gun - used as evidence in the Mark Duggan inquest This photograph of a gun was shown to the jury as evidence

How did the inquest work?

A jury of ultimately 10 people heard evidence of what happened during the operation and the circumstances leading up to it.

The question they ultimately had to answer was whether the shooting was absolutely necessary. Did the police officer who fired have an honestly held and reasonable belief that Mr Duggan posed a serious and imminent threat at that moment?

The inquest examined police reports before the shooting which said Mr Duggan was a gangster with a history of violence and guns. The jury had to consider why the gun which was apparently the target of the police operation was not seized by officers sooner.

At the end of the evidence the jury had to answer a series of questions: Did the police do the best they could have done to gather intelligence about Mr Duggan collecting a gun? Was the stop on the minicab done in a way which minimised recourse to lethal force? Did Mr Duggan have the gun with him in the taxi before the stop? Did he have the gun in his hand when he was shot? If so, did the officer who shot him honestly believe that he needed to do so? How did the gun end up where it did?

Unlike a criminal trial, where a jury has to be sure beyond reasonable doubt of the relevant facts to reach a verdict, an inquest jury can base its conclusion on a balance of probabilities. The exception here was a conclusion of unlawful killing - if the jury wanted to reach that conclusion then, the coroner said, it had to be sure.

Replica of scene of Mark Duggan's shooting The inquest jury visit a reconstruction of the shooting

What is the significance of an inquest conclusion?

Inquests are not criminal trials - so juries are never asked whether someone is criminally to blame for a death. Their role is to look at the facts and come to some conclusion about how the individual died.

If an inquest jury decides someone has been unlawfully killed, then it is up to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether someone should go on trial.

However, coroners have additional powers to send a report to ministers or other public bodies if an inquest identifies specific issues which must be acted upon to prevent future similar deaths. The body that receives the report must respond to it.

Judge Keith Cutler Judge Keith Cutler was the coroner

Who were the key people in the inquest?

The coroner, Judge Keith Cutler, was assisted by an inquest legal team led by barrister Ashley Underwood QC. The team's role was to take the coroner and the jury through the evidence before counsel for "interested parties" put questions.

The "interested parties" are people who have some connection to the death or specific stake in the outcome of the inquest.

The family of Mr Duggan were represented by Michael Mansfield QC. Hugo Keith QC represented the Metropolitan Police, Samantha Leek QC appeared for the Serious Organised Crime Agency and Ian Stern QC represented the armed police.

Some individual witnesses had legal counsel, as did the IPCC, which has separately investigated what happened but not yet published its report.

Mark Duggan inquest tasks

  • Establish how and why Mark Duggan died
  • Expose any "culpable or discreditable conduct"
  • Examine any suspicions of deliberate wrongdoing
  • Examine any dangerous practices or procedures

Who gave evidence?

There were about 100 witnesses.

Many of them were police officers who gave evidence anonymously, among them V53, the officer who fired the shots. There were also witnesses who were experts in pathology, ballistics and trauma injuries.

There were also civilian witnesses to the aftermath of the shooting, but only one, Witness B, who claimed to have seen the actual killing.

Mark Duggan funeral cortege Friends and family at the funeral in early September 2011

Why did some of them give evidence behind screens?

Courts have the power to grant anonymity to a witness if there is a risk to their personal safety from appearing in public.

Do the police have the power to shoot someone dead?

Article Two of the European Convention on Human Rights says that everyone has a right to life - but that does not mean that police cannot shoot someone dead.

The law states that police can use force, including lethal force, providing it is necessary in the circumstances. In other words, if an officer can show that he was right to believe that the force he used was the only way to protect himself or others, then that can be deemed to be lawful.

The coroner told the jury that it was not necessary for the officer who fired the shots, V53, to prove that the killing was lawful. "Any person is entitled to use reasonable force to defend themselves or others," he said.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC London



17 °C 8 °C

BBC Local Live

    Listen: 'Expected to use sex' 12:18: BBC Radio 4

    Peter Francis worked in the now disbanded Special Demonstration Squad with Bob Lambert, who had a child with a woman he was secretly monitoring in the 1980s. He says officers were expected to have sexual relationships with people they were spying on.

    Information Age gallery 12:17: Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

    The Information Age gallery, opened by the Queen this morning, has been three years in the planning, and is one of the most ambitious projects the museum has ever undertaken.

    A technician checks the Web story box display at the Information Age gallery
    News on the hour 11:57: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    The bulletin at 12:00 includes:

    • A woman who had a child with an undercover police officer and didn't learn who he really was for 25 years is to receive more than £400,000 in compensation from Scotland Yard.
    • The Met Police use surveillance powers more than any other force in the UK according to the pressure group Big Brother Watch.
    Royal tweet 11:50:

    The Science Museum tweets: .@BritishMonarchy We're honoured The Queen chose to open our Information Age gallery by sending her first tweet #smInfoAge #TheQueenTweets

    Queen's first tweet 11:44:

    The Queen has sent her first tweet on a visit to the Science Museum.

    Twitter feed
    'Chemicals' death inquest 11:42:

    The inquest into the deaths of Heena Solanki, 34, and her daughters Prisha, four, and Jasmine, nine, who were found dead at their family home in Ruislip, west London, is taking place this afternoon at West London Coroner's Court.

    The Solanki family
    Luxury flat construction blocked 11:35:

    Vice reports people in Barnet are blocking the construction of luxury flats.

    Terror suspect in court 11:27:

    Terror suspect, Tuhin Shanesha, 26, of Hudson Road in Southsea, Portsmouth, has been remanded in custody after appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court, charged with preparing acts of terrorism.

    He was one of four people arrested as part of a number of warrants executed across Hampshire and London by officers from the South East Counter-Terrorism Unit last week.

    One CCTV camera earns TfL £1m 11:18:

    A CCTV camera overlooking a tiny stretch of a road in Swiss Cottage has led to motorists being fined almost £1m in penalty charges over the past year alone - and many could be due for a refund, a London cab driver has discovered.

    See the Ham & High for the full story.

    'Disorientated and destroyed' 11:05:

    'Jacqui' continues: "Precious memories and rites of passage that marked milestones in a woman's life have been corrupted and leave me feeling disorientated and destroyed.

    Bob Lambert

    "I don't know if he was paid overtime to be with me during the 14 hours of labour I went through giving birth to our son."

    News on the hour 10:55: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    The headlines this hour include:

    • The Met Police use surveillance powers more than any other force in the UK according to the pressure group Big Brother Watch.
    • A woman who had a child with an undercover police officer and didn't learn who he really was for 25 years is to receive more than £400,000 in compensation from Scotland Yard.
    • Police investigating the disappearance of a man from King's Cross have found a body in the Thames near Vauxhall Bridge.
    'First true love' 10:48:

    'Jacqui' says: "My world fell apart on 14th June 2012 when after 24 years I discovered that my first true love, and the father of my first child was a police officer paid to spy on me and my friends."

    Robert Lambert
    Undercover victim 10:39: Matt Prodger Home affairs correspondent

    The statement from "Jacqui", whose child was fathered by a man who she did not know was an undercover police officer, is a tough read.

    Have your say 10:32:

    We've introduced BBC Local Live to bring you news, sport, travel and weather updates in one place. We'd like to know what you think.

    Mistaken identity 10:27: Sonja Jessup Presenter, BBC London News

    tweets: Just been mistaken for a police officer at Isleworth Crown Court. I guess I'm among the few people not wearing a wig.

    MI5 wartime agent was bank clerk 10:23:

    A wartime MI5 agent who revealed a network of UK-based Nazi sympathisers, has been identified as a bank clerk from Surrey who worked in central London.

    MI5 agent Eric Roberts
    Body of missing man found 10:13:

    Officers investigating the disappearance of 29-year-old Richard MacKenzie have found his body. The police say it was found in the River Thames near Vauxhall Bridge on Wednesday and the death is being treated as non-suspicious.

    Queen to visit Science Museum 10:06:

    The Queen will be shown technological wonders from the past 200 years when she opens a major new gallery at the Science Museum later.

    The new attraction features more than 800 objects and explores how breakthroughs have transformed the way people have communicated since the early 19th century.

    News on the hour 09:55: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    The bulletin this hour includes:

    • The lawyer representing a woman who had a child with an undercover police officer says Scotland Yard's apology and offer of more than £400,000 in compensation aren't enough.
    • Police investigating the disappearance of a man from King's Cross have found a body in the Thames near Vauxhall Bridge
    Piracy police given more money 09:42:

    More money is to be given to the City of London Police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit.

    The division deals exclusively with investigating digital piracy and counterfeited goods.

    Lamela's wonder goal for Spurs 09:34:

    Mauricio Pochettino described Erik Lamela's wonder-strike during Tottenham's 5-1 win over Greek side Asteras Tripolis as "unbelievable".

    Erik Lamela
    Firework sparks mews fire 09:27: London Evening Standard Newspaper

    A stray firework narrowly missed a pedestrian before setting a £3 million South Kensington mews house on fire, reports the Evening Standard.

    Jones on Parliament Square 09:21:

    London Assembly Member Jenny Jones who was arrested in Parliament Square on Tuesday tweets: I'm very angry at what has happened to the #Occupy protesters:

    Term-time holiday turnaround 09:13: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    On now until 12:00, council leaders in England want to scrap the ban on parents taking their children on holiday during term-time.

    Last year, fines were brought in to reduce unauthorised absences from school but the Local Government Association says it should be down to head teachers to take a "common sense" approach on the issue. What do you think? Call Vanessa Feltz on 020 7224 2000.

    Watch: Weekend weather 09:08:
    News on the hour 08:58: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    The bulletin at 09:00 from Matt Schofield includes:

    • Scotland Yard's paying more than £400,000 in compensation to an animal rights activist who had a child with an undercover officer in the 1980s.
    • The Met Police use surveillance powers more than any other force in the UK according to the pressure group Big Brother Watch.
    Undercover officers 08:54: BBC Radio 4

    Sex "was used by almost everybody" and you were "expected to engage in relationships" says former undercover officer Peter Francis on the Today programme.

    'May have burnt eyebrows' 08:50:

    Police say a man who started a fire at a petrol station in Greenwich "may have burnt his eyebrows as well as his hair".

    Anyone with information should call Det Con Buckwell at Greenwich CID on 020 8284 9416 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    Top headlines
    Watch: Man tries to start petrol fire 08:40:

    Police hoping to identify a man who started a fire at a petrol station, have released shocking CCTV images.

    CCTV image
    Apology over 'pain and suffering' 08:30:

    The woman, known only as Jacqui, told BBC News she had received psychiatric care after learning the officer's real identity.

    Father and child

    The force said it "unreservedly apologises for any pain and suffering".

    Payout over secret PC's child 08:24:

    The Metropolitan Police is to pay £425,000 to a woman whose child was fathered by a man who she did not know was an undercover police officer.

    Jacqui with her son Jacqui and her son: Spent years trying to work out where Bob the father had gone

    The unprecedented payment comes after a legal battle with women who say they were duped into relationships with officers who were spying on them.

    M25 fire 08:19: Paul Murphy-Kasp Journalist, BBC London

    On the M25 there is queuing from J18 for Chorleywood to J16 for the M40 after a car caught fire earlier on.

    For the latest information news go to our travel page or on Twitter @BBCLondonTravel.

    Gipsy Hill closed 08:16: Paul Murphy-Kasp Journalist, BBC London

    Gypsy Hill is closed between Gipsy Road and the Hollybush traffic lights for repairs after a sewer collapse.

    For the latest information news go to our travel page or on Twitter @BBCLondonTravel.

    Heavy rain, then drier 08:07:

    There will be periods of rain, some heavy, during the day. It will become drier and brighter later in the afternoon. Maximum temperature: 15C (59F).

    Weather chart
    08:00: Josephine McDermott BBC News Online

    I'll be bringing you the latest news, sport, travel and weather from across the capital today for BBC Local Live.

    You can also send your news, pictures and comments to or tweet @BBCLondonNews.



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.