The Mark Duggan shooting, the police, and the media

A correction and apology

Before reading this post please read the correction and apology posted here


It is said the first casualty of war is truth.  Sadly in this country, it seems the first casualty of press coverage is also truth.

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.

12 Responses to “The Mark Duggan shooting, the police, and the media”

  1. 1 Patrick Harris 08/08/2011 at 12:19 pm

    Yes there was rioting and some looting but just take a look at what this cunt got away with and then tell me that taking a flatscreen TV is a serious crime.
    The shop owners are (presumeably) insured and will be recompensed for their losses. this twat walks away scot free and there is no chance that the public will recoup the loss.

    This sort of profligate use of our money could be part and parcel of reason to riot.

  2. 2 Autonomous Mind 08/08/2011 at 12:49 pm

    Patrick, that’s the fault of the Councillors who approved the contract and voters should take appropriate action to remove these morons from their comfy council seats.

    The insurance payouts for shop keepers affected by the London riots mean we all pay higher premiums, so we are being directly affected by the arsonists and looters.

    Presumably those people who might have protested against Kent County Council for that insanity would have focussed their attention on those who have done wrong, and not gone out burning down shops and stealing goods from people who have done nothing wrong.

  3. 3 KnoX 08/08/2011 at 1:03 pm

    I think sometimes criminals have more rights than hard working people, if the killed was a hard work person it would not end as a Riot or front page

  4. 4 True American 09/08/2011 at 1:09 am

    It sounds like the London Police are very racist and racially profile the people they shoot.
    It looks like many in the press are continuing to racistly attack the dead man vs waiting for the investigation to be completed.

    You should be ashamed of yourself London.
    Stop being so Racist!
    Let minorities have a chance.

  5. 5 True American 09/08/2011 at 1:12 am

    Also, it appears many of your commenters are White Nationalists.

    Your commenter Patrick Harris using the profane “C” word regarding a minority female. What is wrong with him? Is he a rx cist White Nationalist?

    Brittain needs to start accepting Minorities. Stop being so Elitist!
    It is loooong overdue!

    Give Minorities an even shake. Trying being Humane!

  6. 6 Kris 09/08/2011 at 4:40 am

    @True American

    when more guys from the UK black & poor communities start giving something back to the country (not all, granted, but there are many thousands who only believe in gangland terror, violence and unrest), then perhaps the outlook for “Racist Britain” wouldn’t be so bleak. I love how short sighted people are when it comes down to racism and crime. Look at the fucking statistics. Racism isn’t just about the “ignorant white man” anymore. Get a grip.

    As for use of the word cunt, that’s just an angry man asserting his feelings into text. If you want to call him a White Nationalist for that reason, more fool you.

    The media are scum for publishing speculation, and have helped fuel the fire that is literally burning throughout London. Under-trained police and a lack of support throughout the capital means this could turn out to be a long haul problem, with report of looting in Birmingham & Bristol.

  7. 7 Goodwill Ndlovu 09/08/2011 at 9:43 am

    These rioters are downright thugs and everybody is making racist comments about the reporting and shooting. How many of the “non-racists” are pitching up to restore order? This is not about Mark Duggan, this is about monority opportunists exploiting an incident for personal gain. I love in South Africa and know what racism is as I have experienced first hand. How many of the rioters are white-racists? Nice going “monorities”… You have done a great to improve whitie’s opinion of us. Where are the brothers who want law and order and peace in the neighbourhood? Oh yes, they are attending a riot. There are laws in place to protect people regardless of colour or creed and if you elect to say in the country the obey the laws or go to one of our “sophisticated” African countries where the Mugabe’s of the world will be fair to you. A touch of Sarcasm? YOU THINK!!!

  8. 8 David A. Evans. 10/08/2011 at 12:42 am

    @True American.
    I’m SICK of the, “It’s only ’cause I’m black” culture.
    Some of the most racially prejudiced people I have met have been black so in American, Butt out shithead!
    A classic case for me was when I was in the RAF. a guy tried the “It’s only ’cause I’m black” thing…
    Another black turned around & said… “The only difference between you and any other cunt is, you’re a black cunt!”

  9. 9 David A. Evans. 10/08/2011 at 12:57 am

    re my last comment…
    Cheers Craig. Much as I wanted to say that, I couldn’t. You know, race relations & such.

  1. 1 The Tottenham riot wasn't all about YOU | The Lost Boy Trackback on 08/08/2011 at 11:15 am
  2. 2 Duggan shooting: Media trying to shift blame for their inaccurate claims « Autonomous Mind Trackback on 08/08/2011 at 2:32 pm
  3. 3 Twitted by theycallmehint Trackback on 09/08/2011 at 12:31 pm
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