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Mark Duggan shooting was justified, says police watchdog

SHOT DEAD: Mark Duggan

A REPORT into the death of Mark Duggan has found that no misconduct on the part of officers involved in the operation that led to his death.

The findings of an investigation led by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) were published on Wednesday (March 25), almost three-and-a-half years after the 29-year-old was killed by a police marksman in Tottenham, north London.

Duggan had been travelling in a taxi from his girlfriend’s home in Hoxton, before stopping in Leyton where he was handed a shoebox by Kevin Hutchinson-Foster when he was subjected to a hard stop by armed police in Ferry Lane.

The report noted there was “no material evidence to undermine V53 assertions that he had an honestly held belief that his life or that of his colleagues was in imminent danger” when he fired the two fatal shots, although investigators also found that Duggan voluntarily got out of the minicab.

Its long-awaited conclusions will provide no comfort to his grieving family who have never accepted the inquest ruling that the father-of-four’s death on August 4, 2011, was lawful.

In an exclusive interview with The Voice, IPCC Deputy Chair Rachel Cerfontyne, said she was confident the police watchdog’s investigation had answered the majority of the questions surrounding his death.

She added: “In spite of living in a world full of CCTV, at the critical moment of this case nothing was recorded for us. Obviously, Mark Duggan died but the only people actually there seeing what happened were the police. The challenge for us was the lack of independent incontrovertible evidence which has meant…there are some bits I cannot say with absolute certainty that this is what happened.

“The deepest mystery was how did that gun get 14 feet over a fence? We cannot say with absolute certainty. We have come up with an explanation that we think is the most plausible but there is a gap between most plausible and absolute certainty. For me, perfection would have been to have absolute certainty.”

The 500-page report, which considered 1,200 documents, 500 witness statements and 340 exhibits and footage, believes Duggan was shot twice by the officer, known only as V53, as he tossed a gun he had earlier collected from Kevin Hutchinson-Foster.

It stated there was no credible evidence that the gun was planted by police or anyone else.

A Mail on Sunday investigation published ahead of the IPCC’s report said it had uncovered evidence that a series of police blunders meant Duggan should never have been the police’s target and the operation that led to his death could have been avoided.

However, one of the IPPC’s 24 findings was that it was reasonable for Trident’s Operation Dibri, investigating rising tensions among serious criminal organisations in north London, was justified in targeting Duggan based on ‘intelligence’ that he had access to firearms.
It also suggested that Hutchinson-Foster may have been a police informant and was under protection.

When asked if the Hutchinson-Foster was a police informant and if that line of investigation had been pursued, Cerfontyne said: “There are some things I can’t legally answer and I think we have made that clear about intelligence. No investigative body will ever confirm or deny whether someone is a police informant and that applies across the board. I can’t answer that specific questions but all lines of enquiry were pursued.”

Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan welcomed the report's findings.

She said: "Last year the jury at the inquest found that our officers acted lawfully when they confronted an armed criminal who they believed posed a threat to them and to the public.

"And now the IPCC, having examined all of the evidence, have produced a report which says that the operation was appropriate in the circumstances and the IPCC found no wrongdoing or misconduct for any armed officer involved in the police operation.

"These conclusions have not been made lightly and the IPCC have produced a very careful and full explanation of their findings. I hope that people take their time to study it and it goes some way to helping the public understand the events of that day."

More to follow...

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