A correction and apology
Before reading this post please read the correction and apology posted here
The shooting of Mark Duggan, by officers from the Metropolitan Police CO19 firearms unit, is being investigated and we await the findings of the inquiry into the events that took place on Ferry Lane in Tottenham. We do not know exactly what happened. Duggan might have failed to follow instructions leading police to decide he was a threat. Duggan might have drawn a weapon resulting in him being shot. A police officer might have lost discipline and opened fire.
We have to wait and see what the witness statements and forensic evidence tell us. But at this time we do know some of the facts.
- The police set out to arrest Mark Duggan after stopping a mini cab he was travelling in
- He was challenged
- At least two shots were fired by police
- Duggan was killed
- Another police officer was injured by a round that lodged in his radio
- A non-police issue firearm was found at the scene
- An investigation was immediately started by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)
That is all. Anything else being reported at this time – even if it turns out later to be accurate – is nothing more than rumour and speculation. However, once again we have seen the elements in the media reporting things as fact that have no evidence to support them. Consider these:
* Man killed in shooting incident involving police officer. A policeman’s life was saved by his radio last night after a gunman opened fire on him and the bullet hit the device. – Telegraph
* But Duggan, a known offender from London’s notorious Broadwater Farm Estate, became aware that he was being followed and opened fire on the officers. He shot the officer from Scotland Yard’s elite firearms squad CO19 in the side of his chest with a handgun. – Daily Mail
* A GUNMAN was killed by cops last night in a shoot-out in which an officer survived when a bullet seemingly hit his radio. He was downed by a marksman after firing first and hitting the officer. Witnesses said police had shouted at the man to stop but he ignored them. – The Sun
* The incident took place in Tottenham Hale at about 18:15 BST and Mr Duggan died at the scene. Two shots were fired by an officer and it is believed that one shot was discharged from an illegal firearm inside the car. – BBC News London
* Officers shouted at the man to stop but he turned and fired his weapon, hitting one policeman. Luckily, the bullet seemed to ricochet off his radio, and after brief medical attention he was able to go home. – Metro
There is no evidence for these media assertions. The Metropolitan Police have not issued any press release or provided interviews where such assertions were shared. The IPCC has issued press releases but has said nothing about Duggan firing a weapon. But because the media stated these ‘facts’ people have accepted them as the truth and are now wrongly accusing the Met of lying and spreading the disinformation for nefarious purposes:
The impact of this irresponsible media behaviour, in conjunction with the unconfirmed reports about the ballistic test results, is causing further reputational damage to the Metropolitan Police. There is plenty to criticise and condemn the Met for, but it is wrong and unjust to accuse them of something they are not guilty of. Already we have seen this media inaccuracy being exploited by serial rioters like Jody McIntyre to justify their own behaviour and egg on others to riot, commit arson and engage in looting in various parts of London.
The Press Complaints Commission is a busted flush. But before it withers away and is replaced by creeping government regulation and oversight, it could make itself relevant for a short time and take on this appalling lack of journalistic rigour, which could be having far reaching consequences. The media must be held to account and cannot be allowed to publish such unsubstantiated claims as fact and in so doing misleading the public.
And just in case anyone thinks this blog is being unfair to the media, there is at least one example of a media outlet that reported the story and just about kept itself under control by not asserting Duggan fired any shots… take a bow Sky News.
Update: Have just found a post in a similar vein written yesterday by The Lost Boy. The post is worth reading and the blog adding to your read list.