If you were to ask the proverbial man on the Clapham omnibus where an ordinary person could be shot dead by the police with total impunity, he might reply North Korea, Iran, Israel (Palestinians only), or some African banana republic such as liberated Zimbabwe
. The idea that this could happen in Britain would probably not have occurred to him, at least not until a few years ago, but the death of Mark Duggan
and before that of both Harry Stanley and James Ashley
, and to some extent that of Jean Charles de Menezes
, has resulted in the public waking up, albeit slowly. The big question now is what if anything should or can we do about this abrogation of the rule of law?
One thing is for certain, any changes that are made to the system whereby the police investigate the police and then rubber stamp their colleagues' behaviour will come too late to redress what happened here. So what did happen, exactly?
We will probably never know the complete story for certain, but a summary of what we do know can be found at the first link above, briefly, acting on information (which may mean an anonymous tip off), officers from Operation Trident stopped the mini cab in which Mark Duggan was travelling, one of them panicked or got trigger happy, and shot him dead. Then the police were allowed to do what no civilian would without facing some sort of charge, be it conspiracy to murder or perverting the course of justice. in short they closed ranks and said nothing, exactly as do their American counterparts when applying The Code
As this case will never be heard in a court of law, others have decided to try it in the court of public opinion; this week, Duggan's sister Paulette Hall spoke to The Voice
about a documentary
based on his life.
There has recently been a development in the case; a man has been charged with attempting to pass a gun to Duggan on the day he was murdered - yes, we can use that word. A fingerprint from Mark Duggan is said to have been lifted from the box in which the weapon was found. This doesn't sound quite so impressive when one considers that some of the officers who will testify at the trial of this man, Kevin Hutchinson-Foster
, are expected to do so anonymously. It is even less impressive when one bears in mind that fingerprints can be lifted and transferred using adhesive tape
, that the police have lied or wilfully misled the public in this case more than once, and that unlike Messrs Dobson and Norris, who were also quite likely fitted up by faked forensics
, the man at the centre of this scandal will never be able to challenge this evidence.