The lead Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigator into the shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan has admitted that the release of information saying that the victim shot at officers was “a mistake”.
Speaking at a pre-inquest review at the Coroner’s Court in High Barnet, Michael Mansfield QC, representing Duggan’s family, complained of “misinformation” and a “breakdown of confidence” between the family and the IPCC investigation.
The father of four, who died of a gunshot would to the chest, had been a passenger in a minicab when it was stopped by police in August. Police initially said that Duggan had fired upon officers, an assertion ballistic testing proved to be false. Outrage over the shooting sparked the Tottenham riots, which spread around London and to several cities nationwide.
The review heard that the gun found at the scene, alleged to have been used by Duggan, was actually found four metres away from the incident and on an opposing side of a fence.
It was also revealed that there was no blood, DNA or fingerprint traces from Duggan found on the firearm.
Questioning Colin Sparrow, the IPCC investigator, Mansfield asked if the witness was aware of the anxiety the family held over the investigation due to the “misinformation that was broadcast at the beginning, close to the time Mark Duggan met his death.”
The "misinformation", Mansfield clarified, was to suggest that some form of “shoot-out” took place.
"It was a mistake," Sparrow told the court.
Sparrow also indicated that it was possible that the gun found behind the fence got there because a police officer had thrown it.
The investigator was also asked to explain why the pathologist’s interim report was not accessible to Duggan’s family, particularly as it would contain details on the trajectory of the bullet, providing information as to the positions of the officers and the victim at the scene.
Sparrow said the report only gave the cause of death.
Duggan’s family has since requested an independent examination of the body, which has not been allowed.
In November, the IPCC said that the non-police issue handgun found at the scene was a key element in its probe, but the sequence of events was not yet known.