Leveson Inquiry: IPCC 'error' over Mark Duggan shooting

Mark Duggan, shot in August 2011
Image caption Mark Duggan, who was shot dead by police in Tottenham Hale, 4 August 2011

The head of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has said it made a "serious error" in its handling of the Mark Duggan shooting.

Jane Furniss said it had been a mistake for journalists to be told there had been an exchange of fire.

She told the Leveson Inquiry that the press had been quick to criticise the affair.

The IPCC is the body that oversees the police complaints system.

The inquiry is currently examining the press and its relationship with the police.

Anger over the shooting of Mr Duggan in Tottenham, north London, sparked riots locally last August - they spread across the capital and to other parts of England.

'Leaked information'

Ms Furniss told Lord Justice Leveson that a report prepared by the IPCC investigating the relationship between police and journalists did not reveal endemic corruption.

A report for Home Secretary Theresa May would be given to the inquiry "imminently", she said, adding: "Journalists trust us that we will tell them as much as we can, when we can."

Ms Furniss also spoke of the 5,179 complaints of improper disclosure of information received by the IPCC between 2006 and 2011.

She said it was not possible to categorise the allegations.

"There are often times when people believe that information has found its way into the press as a result of leaking when actually it's the result of people both in the police, in the IPCC, in public bodies having information and other members of families, friends, individuals providing information."

She added that "journalists who are good at this, add it all together and then it looks as if someone has leaked information".

'Crucial relationship'

The Leveson Inquiry also heard from Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), who said that new police commissioners "should have their own press officers" and not use those of police forces.

Commenting on the relationship between police and the press, Sir Hugh warned: "We need to be careful not to become so rigid and so bound by rules that we actually spoil what is a crucial relationship with the media."

But he underlined the need to be "clear" that this was "about sharing information, not being friends".

Referring to his days as head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Sir Hugh said he had gained a wealth of knowledge from journalists there, and benefited "far more from their information than anything I had to say to them".

He also told counsel to the inquiry Robert Jay QC that a dinner with Andy Coulson, then editor of the News of the World, in January 2007 had been to tell the story of policing in Northern Ireland.

'Hindered by media'

PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott and the force's head of corporate communications, Liz Young, also addressed the inquiry - they underlined the need for police to follow cautious guidelines when dealing with the press in Northern Ireland.

Referring to matters of media accuracy, Mr Baggott rejected the idea that police should have briefed reporters about stories on Kate and Gerry McCann emerging from Portugal, following the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine in May 2007.

Mr Baggott was chief constable of Leicestershire Police at the time when inaccurate stories about forensics and the McCanns emerged.

He said the force had wanted to maintain a "positive relationship" with the Portuguese police, and it would have been wrong to breach that confidence.

He added that "media speculation certainly hindered the effort to find and trace Madeleine McCann".