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



20 °C 12 °C

BBC Local Live

    Ex-Fulham boss admits to cheese advice 09:52:

    Former Fulham boss Felix Magath has admitted he told Brede Hangeland to treat a knee injury with cheese.

    Felix Magath, former Fulham boss

    But the German, who was sacked by the Championship club last week, says the story has been distorted by the media after defender Hangeland claimed Magath told him to treat an injured thigh with a block of cheese soaked in alcohol.

    Lion King 'most successful' show 09:39:

    Musical The Lion King has taken more money at the box office than any other stage show or cinema release.

    It has made more than $6.2bn (£3.8bn) in ticket sales alone, not counting merchandise, cast recordings or revenue from the film on which it is based, meaning it has overtaken The Phantom of the Opera, even though Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical has been seen by twice as many ticketholders.

    New RMT union general secretary 09:30:

    Rail, Maritime and Transport Union acting general secretary Mick Cash has been elected its leader following the death of Bob Crow in March.

    Mick Cash

    The 54-year-old, who was Mr Crow's deputy for 12 years, said he was "proud and honoured" to be given the "enormous responsibility".

    Have your say 09:20:

    What do you think of BBC Local Live? We'd like your feedback about this service.

    Londoner bet £900k on Scots vote 09:10:

    An anonymous London man bet £900,000 on a "No" vote in the Scottish independence referendum - and won.

    Londoner bet £900k on Scots vote

    He said the bet was "not a reckless gamble" but rather "a reasoned wage" based on thorough research - although he did make sure to check with his wife first.

    News on the hour 09:00:
    18 rescued in Battersea fire 08:50:

    Eighteen people were rescued by firefighters after a blaze broke out in a tower block in south London.

    18 rescued in Battersea fire

    The Met said 10 people had been treated for minor injuries, while six were taken to hospital for treatment after 80 firefighters and 12 fire engines were sent to the fourth floor of the high-rise block in Battersea at around 16:00 yesterday.

    On air 08:41: Vanessa Feltz Presenter, BBC London 94.9

    On BBC London 94.9 from 09:00, researchers in London say only half of 5-year-olds have reached a good level of development by the time they start school, and in some parts of the country it's barely a quarter - how can we make that better?

    Top headlines
    Controversial show opens 08:30:

    A controversial exhibition which has been branded as racist by some critics opens at the Barbican today.

    Exhibit B by Brett Bailey features live performers including black men and women shackled and caged.

    Some have denounced it as a detrimental portrayal of black people but the Barbican's defended it as an exploration of black history.

    Met investigated 08:20:

    A human rights watchdog is to investigate the Met Police after it emerged references to discrimination were deleted from internal reports.

    Carol Howard

    The inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) comes after PC Carol Howard won a discrimination case against the force.

    Road problems 08:10: Louise Pepper Journalist, BBC London

    At Clapham Junction, St John's Hill is closed at Falcon Road (by the station) due to a collision leading delays around the area.

    On the A13, a collision westbound after Prince Regent Lane has added to morning delays all the way in from Rainham.

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

    Chilly start 08:04:

    After a chilly start any patchy mist and fog will clear, leaving sunny spells. This afternoon cloud will increase, perhaps bringing some rain later.

    It will feel pleasantly warm in the light winds, with temperatures a little above average for the time of year.

    Highs of 20C (68F)

    08:00: Matthew Bell BBC News, London

    Good morning, I'll be bringing you all the latest news, sport, travel and weather from London today for BBC Local Live.

    You can also send your news, pictures and comments to



  • Peaky Blinders publicity shotBrum do

    Why is the Birmingham accent so difficult to mimic?

  • Oliver CromwellA brief history

    The 900-year-story behind the creation of a UK parliament

  • Image of Ankor Wat using lidarJungle Atlantis

    How lasers have revealed an ancient city beneath the forest

  • ShakespeareBard taste? Watch

    Are trailer videos on social media spoiling theatre?

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.