Mark Duggan Inquest: The legal options

Relatives of Mark Duggan outside the Royal Courts of Justice Mr Duggan's family gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice after the inquest

Mark Duggan's family say the inquest jury's conclusion of lawful killing is not the end of the story - they say they have been denied justice and want to challenge the outcome.

But what exactly are their options?

The reality is there are very few - and it boils down to whether or not there was a significant problem with the inquest itself.

Coroners are supposed to give inquest juries clear directions about how to reach their conclusions - a kind of "route map" of questions they need to answer in relation to the crucial pieces of evidence.

Critics of the Mark Duggan jury say their conclusion was baffling and perverse - but let's look at how they reached it.

Police can't just gun down a suspect just because they think he is an armed gangster.

They are governed by the same law as the rest of us, which says we are each entitled to use reasonable force to defend ourselves or another from injury.

Now, reasonable force depends on the circumstances.

Police evidence

The police shooter, codenamed V53, told the jury he honestly believed that Mr Duggan was holding a gun and was going to pull the trigger.

The jury concluded unanimously that Mr Duggan was armed - a man has already gone to prison for supplying the gun - but by a majority they decided he threw the firearm away as police surrounded him.

Carole Duggan and Mark Duggan Mark Duggan's aunt Carole said the family will carry on seeking answers

So how can the jury say that it was a lawful killing?

It all comes down to their judgement of V53's evidence of what he perceived the threat to be in the heat of the moment.

A majority accepted that he genuinely believed that Mr Duggan was a danger to life - even though he may have been mistaken - and therefore his decision to open fire was reasonable and proportionate.

Two of the jurors preferred an open verdict - meaning they were not sure. None of the 10 believed that it was in any way an unlawful killing.

That's why a majority decided Mr Duggan was lawfully killed - and you can read their full reasoning on the inquest website.

There is no automatic right to appeal an inquest conclusion.

But families or other "interested parties" have three months to decide whether to try to judicially review the conclusions.

A judicial review means asking a judge to look at whether a decision by a public body was fair and right. A coroner, like other judges, is defined as a public body - so his decisions can be challenged.

If the family want to judicially review the inquest's conclusion, they will have to convince the High Court that there was a fundamental flaw in the way Judge Keith Cutler managed the process.

The jury themselves cannot be challenged because they are just a group of ordinary people doing their duty.

Family campaign

Very few inquests are successfully challenged - but the case of Harry Stanley did go through the courts - and the outcome there remains controversial to this day.

In 1999, armed police shot and killed Mr Stanley as he walked home carrying a table leg in a bag. Police thought it was a concealed shotgun.

The first inquest concluded with an open verdict - but that was successfully challenged after a campaign by his family.

A second inquest ended with a verdict of unlawful killing - which led to uproar among armed police officers.

The officers challenged that - and it too was quashed.

One of the critical issues in the second challenge was the officers' evidence that they honestly believed Mr Stanley was turning around to shoot at them. The fact that the officers were mistaken, the judge ruled, did not mean that a jury should have been allowed to find they acted unlawfully.

There is a second line of challenge relating to evidence. If some new fact emerges from elsewhere, the attorney general can ask the courts to quash an original inquest and order a fresh one. That's the power that has led to the new Hillsborough inquests.

Whatever happens on that front, the coroner may still have a legal job to do. Coroners can send a special report to public bodies setting out recommendations which they hope will prevent further similar fatalities.

There's speculation that his report is likely to raise questions about the way the police deal with the aftermath of a shooting - not least because this is not the first time critics have said officers should not be allowed to confer as they write up their notes. Scotland Yard looks like it has already accepted there must be some change. The Met's Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, says armed teams will soon be wearing personal video cameras - and he wants officers to be more open with independent investigators of future serious incidents.

Dominic Casciani, Home affairs correspondent Article written by Dominic Casciani Dominic Casciani Home affairs correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    If you think the policing in your area is wrong do you;

    a) start a riot and burn down your own high street

    b) start the blame game as it's never your own fault

    c) get local community leaders and local MPs to engage with the police

    d) look within the community and ask some hard unsavory questions

    Look back in history, it has a tendancy to repeat itself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    "Mark Duggan's aunt Carole says the family will fight the lawful killing decision through the courts and says there should be no more violence."

    Thats nice of her

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    The consistent comment from his family that "he was executed" is so inflammatory as to try to distort the facts, deride the jury's decision and ignore the laws of this country. He led a life that involved guns. You reap what you sow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    I'm suprised it was only a majority verdict. The only purpose of a gun is to kill or maim. The moment Duggan held that gun in his hand he became a man planning to murder. It was unfortunate he was killed rather than aprehended, but, there could be no other verdict. To do so would have made it seem ok to tote a gun in our cities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    I don't know about anyone else, but I feel decidedly safer knowing the Police are willing to take the flack that will follow, after shooting pond-life that decide to break the law, and put others in danger.

    You only have to recall the scenes inside, and out, of the courtroom to begin to understand the types of people the Police have to deal with day in, day out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    40. labourpartydonor
    Public opinion is the ultimate judge in this case.
    Personally, I don't trust any policeman with a gun.

    It was stated on R5 last night that armed police had been deployed 12,000 times in the UK in 2013 and had actually opened fire on 5 occasions. Hardly smacks of trigger-happy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Where's Sally. I'm interested what her opinion is on all this....on second thoughts lets just leave her over on the bereavement thread to argue with herself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.


    There is no way he was executed, there is a list as long as my arm of people the country would be better off if we executed, but Britain is too spineless to secretly do it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Not to throw stones- and accepting that the environment for bringing up a family in London is not the best, especially when you are born into a family with very low expectations and little obvious opportunity- but Paul Duggan's family needs to learn to live with its guilt. Paul was failed by his parents and by his family. Paul was a criminal. I deduce that he was prepared to kill- as the jury did.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    I had previously assumed that it was an innocent person who was shot in error which had caused the riots, not a violent gangster.
    Only yesterday did I read that the person shot was a gangster who had gone to get a gun.

    I can't helping thinking good riddance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Mr Duggan was a criminal who made many other peoples life a misery.

    "family" had decades to bring up a law abiding citizen.

    Police + Social services had years to stop him.

    Media, Politicians & Police continue to fail in dealing with drugs, benefits culture, anti social behaviour, crime, immigration of criminals, violence, abuse, tax avoidance & corporate greed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    The police do a tough job in difficult conditions. They knew he had a gun. I know what I'd have done in the split second decision.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Known criminal carrying a gun.
    Why are his family trying to portray him as a saint?
    Not like it was an innocent nun shot on her way to help the poor....

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Forget about the ins and outs of the incident, which isn't clear cut either way (hence the enquiry).

    The barristers argued their points and presented evidence.

    The jury reviewed the evidence presented. The Judge gave the jury every chance (said he would accept majority votes instead of unanimous) to reach to a conclusion.

    And they made their minds up.

    I don't see what the problem is...

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    He was a one of the Gang member and they cannot be innocent coz im sure he must have harmed someone once or more in his he got wot he deserved i guess....

    Its Karma...

    what goes around comes around...

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Public opinion is the ultimate judge in this case.
    Personally, I don't trust any policeman with a gun.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    He was ferrying a gun. He was a known gang criminal. You make your bed you lie in it. What were we expecting a nice Bobby to ask him to hand it over?

    The guy was caring a firearm in the UK, we are better off without people like him, black or white do you not think?

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    What next.. They should think very hard on how lucky we all are Mark was stopped before he could have used that weapon and heaven forbid anyone on this HYS or anywhere else could have been caught in the crossfire.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    The BBC seem very keen to incite some rioting over this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Homies stick together, Eh, Ms Abbot. Keep it Crippin Loc.


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