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 Article written by Dominic Casciani Dominic Casciani Home affairs correspondent

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  • Comment number 795.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 794.

    Why have you the BBC hidden this story? Shame on you !!

  • Comment number 793.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 792.

    Perhaps 95% of the comments agree with the jury. Unfortunately we are governed by the lawyers who only want to boost visibility and fees. Watch out for these low lives maximising the income opportunities from this case. Nothing to do with justice only income generation! Shame on the b.......d solicitors who attempted to twist and spin to save him before his welcome shooting

  • rate this

    Comment number 791.

    Funny how the BBC is registering "having difficulty responding to your response to other comments" when all the comments are anti BBC. Once the trust is gone, it's gone!

  • rate this

    Comment number 790.

    Another fail by the BBC it should be deleftieied and start reporting the truth and not it's own agenda for other purposes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 789.

    The outrageously biased reporting by the BBC just confirms to me why I no longer pay my licence fee.

  • rate this

    Comment number 788.

    I think there should be an appeal against Diane Abbott's election as a member of parliament.

  • rate this

    Comment number 787.

    BBC not getting the response it wanted so buries Duggan story? Any decent broadcaster would appreciate the story has become how the public, judging by 99% of comments here disagree with the stance of the Duggan family.

    Rather important given the consequences of the Duggan shooting at the time.

    But no, such news isnt 'interesting' enough. No riots. No aunty shouting injustice.

    CNN any day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 786.

    9th January 2014 - 16:28
    Public opinion is the ultimate judge in this case.

    Yes it is.

    Public opinion as judged MD was a thug and got what he deserved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 785.

    If you're a crook, surely, the trick must be to not invite armed police to your gig - a general lack of police experience attending real shooting incidents is potentially, paradoxically, unsafe for the crook, but on balance, how it should be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 784.

    782 Stephen Lawerence was an A level student with huge potential and an innocent victim don't compare gangster Mark Duggan to him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 783.

    I see the BBC is doing its very best to bury this story by making no links to it on ANY page.

    Obviously the comments & voting haven't gone the way it hoped.

    Good job on being impartial BBC, you are a credit to license payers and you Charter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 782.


    "You need to grow up and realize people in this country are not prepared to tolerate being bullied by gun totting imbeciles who think they are big time charlies, black or white! Comprende?"

    Lots of so called 'gangsters' in middle class, leafy NIMBY suburbia is there? you wouldn't know a 'big time charlie' if one passed you in the street.


  • rate this

    Comment number 781.


    You need to grow up and realize people in this country are not prepared to tolerate being bullied by gun totting imbeciles who think they are big time charlies, black or white! Comprende?
    Which incidentally has nothing in common with Stephen Lawrence or the moronic fascists who escaped justice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 780.

    you got carry a gun around unless its to be used , he had one , the police knew he had it , the bloke he got it off said he had it , the police on the ground had been told he was dangerous .... take no chances ,...
    if that gun had been used it could have been me hit if he missed his target . .... rather him than us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 779.

    The BBC will let this story run and run... it's in their nature; we are sick of your pandering to the thug's family. Also I'd love to know what a "community leader" is as well. Based on those thrusting themselves in from of the camera over the last few days, they certainly should be last people "representing" their "community".... .

  • rate this

    Comment number 778.

    722 because he was a gangster!! That is why he was shot. Diane Abbott shame on you for defending low life's, rather than the hard working people who pay your wages and the police they employ.

  • rate this

    Comment number 777.

    If you were surrounded by armed police you would put your hands up whatever the reason!
    Throwing a gun away (if this did happen) in front of a load of police officers makes no sense, you would be better off leaving it in the taxi and saying it was there when you got in.
    Shame his 'family' were not there to stop him getting the gun.

  • rate this

    Comment number 776.

    If Duggan & his family were treated so unfairly why did the coroner allow a few minutes silence before the trial, (which is a complete farce for a start)? The authorities are scared stiff of ethnic minorities now & yet they STILL complain.

    Abbott talks of divide & rule, we know what sort of divide & rule she wants !!!!


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