It is sometimes very difficult to admit when you get something wrong and say sorry. There is always the desire to avoid embarrassment or cover things up quietly and hope no one notices. It is because you know you will feel humiliation and that your credibility may be undermined. Nevertheless it is the right and proper thing to do. This is one of those moments for me. But I hope that after correcting my inaccuracy and apologising for it, some credibility might remain and that readers feel able to trust what I write in the future.
Today, 12 August 2011, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has issued a statement in which it admitted it may have verbally given journalists the impression that Mark Duggan fired at police.
There had been no indication of a verbal briefing, given that quotes used by the media were directly lifted from written IPCC press releases. But by excluding the possibility of a verbal briefing just hours after the shooting and suggesting the media had embellished the story I was guilty of jumping to conclusions and unfairly criticising the reporting as dishonest.
In my view the IPCC deserves to be castigated for also jumping to conclusions and I hope the journalists who received that verbal briefing will now name the IPCC spokesman or woman in the interests of transparency.
What remains clear however is that the police have not publicly asserted that Duggan fired upon officers. The IPCC is not part of the police. Therefore claims by some bloggers and users of social media that the police have lied about the circumstances of the shooting remain – unless evidence to the contrary emerges – inaccurate and misleading.