Scotland Yard backs IPCC call for evidence law change
- 29 March 2012
- From the section UK
The Metropolitan Police has supported calls for changes to the law to allow more details to be revealed in cases where the police have shot people.
Earlier the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said legislation related to intercept evidence was an "obstacle".
It has emerged there may not be an inquest into the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot by police last August.
His death in Tottenham, north London, sparked days of rioting.
But sensitive police material may have to be withheld from the coroner, it emerged earlier this week.
The Duggan inquest echoes the case of Azelle Rodney, who was shot by police in Edgware, north London, in 2005.
The coroner in that case was not able to hold an inquest because of intercept evidence - from either a phone tap or a bug - and it will be the subject of a public inquiry later this year.
Mark Duggan's aunt, Carole Duggan, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the family wanted to learn the "truth", adding: "We definitely want an inquest to be held and we deserve one."
In a statement to the Today Programme, the independent watchdog said some sections of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which bars intercept evidence from legal proceedings including inquests, prevented it giving information to grieving families.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh said the IPCC had been "really shrewd" in the way it had released its statement.
He said calling for changes to the law on intercepts was a "valid question we want to pursue with them and legislators".
Mr Kavanagh said the Met "supports the IPCC position".
On Monday the IPCC said it was likely to have information about police "decision-making" relating to Mr Duggan's death that could not be disclosed to the coroner.
In those circumstances an inquest, with a jury, could not be held.
An inquiry, headed by a judge, would have to take place with some evidence potentially heard behind closed doors.
The Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Carlile, was the independent reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation.
He says the law relating to fatal police operations should be re-examined.
Lord Carlile said: "If there was a case I which, for example, a human covert intelligence resource was at risk, or if a phone intercept would reveal that kind of risk, then there would be good proportionate reasons for keeping it secret.
"But, in general terms, I agree with the chair of the IPCC. It is time to review the law," he added.
Mr Duggan's family have accused the IPCC of being obstructive.
IPCC deputy chairwoman Deborah Glass has now issued a statement saying how "frustrated" the body is when "anyone or anything" gets in the way of its ability to provide information or ensure a case is heard fully in public.
The statement said: "The IPCC believes that it is essential for families to play a full part in any process which establishes how and in what circumstances their family member died.
"Our principal statutory duty is to secure and maintain confidence in the police complaints system and one way in which this can be achieved is by ensuring that there is proper public scrutiny when someone dies at the hands of the state."
Ms Glass did not refer to the Duggan case directly, but said the IPCC's hands were sometimes "tied" by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
She said it was a "breach of the law" even to explain why some information could not be disclosed.
The IPCC's view, she said, was that the law "needs to be changed".
Mr Duggan, a father-of-four, was a passenger in a minicab which was stopped in Tottenham, north London, by police as part of a planned operation on 4 August 2011.
He died of a single gunshot wound to the chest.
The IPCC initially said he had shot at officers, but ballistic tests later revealed that claim was untrue.
Anger over the shooting sparked riots in Tottenham on 6 August, with the unrest spreading across London and to other parts of England.
At a pre-inquest hearing in February, the IPCC admitted making a "mistake" by saying Mr Duggan had fired at officers.
That hearing heard the family of Mr Duggan had suffered a "complete breakdown in confidence" in the police watchdog.