Mark Duggan shooting: MPs demand intercept evidence rethink
- 18 October 2012
- From the section UK Politics
A public inquest into last year's fatal shooting by police of Mark Duggan may never be held without a change to the law, MPs have warned.
The Commons agreed unanimously to call for a rethink of the ban on intercept evidence in courts and inquests.
Labour's David Lammy said the current position contradicted "notions of judicial fairness" and "common sense".
Minister James Brokenshire said the government was committed to finding a way of allowing intercept evidence.
However, the Home Office minister conceded it was a "challenging" task.
Denying an inquest to the family of Mr Duggan, 29, who was shot dead in Tottenham, north London, in August 2011, was an "affront" to his family, Mr Lammy said.
"As the law stands at the moment, they cannot even be told why an inquest cannot take place," the Tottenham MP said as he opened a Commons debate on the subject on Thursday.
Rioting spread through towns and cities across England following Mr Duggan's shooting.
Mr Lammy said the riots had shown "the frustration of questions left unanswered", although he added that not everyone involved was "motivated by a sense of injustice".
"Now more than ever must we ensure that there is an open, judge-led inquest into the death of Mark Duggan," he told the Commons.
"The denial of a public inquest damages not just the outcome of this case, it casts a shadow over the entire judicial system."
The Labour MP's motion called on the government to "review its approach to open justice, in particular the use of intercept evidence".
Speaking in support of Mr Lammy, former Conservative shadow home secretary David Davis said Britain was the only major democracy to ban the use of intercept evidence.
"It is absolutely essential that we have that open and fully informed inquest after every single fatal operation of state against an individual, because that is actually what keeps us as a civilised state," he argued.
"In my opinion we can safely allow intercept evidence in court without jeopardising our intelligence-gathering techniques above and beyond where they are now."
Shadow Home Office minister Diana Johnson said it was "generally accepted that allowing intercept evidence would have a significant impact on some trials, facilitating some prosecutions and making others more likely".
"The government has proposed secret inquests in which intercept evidence would be admissible," she said, "but that would not solve the problem - not only do we need justice to be done, but we need it to be seen to be done."
Mr Brokenshire said: "It is no exaggeration to say that interception constitutes one of the most important and effective capabilities to tackle serious crime and threats to our national security.
"It is crucial that we get this right."
The debate took place the day after a jury failed to reach a verdict in the trial of a man charged with supplying a gun to Mr Duggan before he was shot dead by police.
Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, 30, had denied selling or transferring a prohibited firearm to Mr Duggan.