Officials consider unprecedented move but testimony from firearms officers will not be broadcast
Judicial officials are considering plans to stream the inquest into the police shooting of Mark Duggan live over the internet.
It is thought it would be the first time that proceedings from an inquest have been shown live.
Ashley Underwood QC, counsel to the inquest, said officials believed the move was desirable.
The controversial shooting of Duggan in north London in 2011, by Met police officers who believed he had a gun, was the catalyst for rioting across England.
Underwood said: “We are considering a live video and audio feed to be available to the public. It would be desirable, if practicable.”
Some of the inquest, however, will not be available, including testimony from firearms officers. This is in keeping with past inquests or inquiries into police shootings, in which they were given anonymity and testified from behind screens.
The team that ran the inquiry into the police shooting of Azelle Rodney has been drafted in for the Duggan inquest. Oral hearings in the Rodney inquiry – not in itself an inquest – were streamed live on a page on the inquiry’s website.
The inquest into Duggan’s death was due to begin on Tuesday but has been delayed until September, more than two years since he was killed. Duggan’s family has been pressing for it to begin as soon as possible. A number of factors have caused the delays, including the fact that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has not yet completed its report which it said would be finished last summer.
On Monday the family attended a pre-inquest hearing on the day they had expected the full inquest to start.
Concerns over potential “secret evidence” in the case have led to the coroner being replaced by a judge, Keith Cutler, who was appointed earlier this month.
Cutler said the case would be heard by a jury and the hearing was told the evidence in question related to the intelligence that led armed police to follow and then decide to stop a vehicle Duggan was travelling in as part of a pre-planned operation.
The hearing was told the IPCC had not yet taken possession of the intelligence material and heard claims that the watchdog still had basic inquiries to carry out.
Leslie Thomas, one of the barristers representing Duggan’s family said: “It is absolutely shocking to find ourselves here today and to hear your counsel saying that there are further investigations, basic investigations, to be conducted such as a reconstruction and forensics.”
Cutler pressed counsel for the IPCC for a date when their report would be complete. Robin Tam QC said he could not give a date and that new lines of inquiry had emerged in the past few weeks alone.
Underwood spoke of the significance of Duggan’s death. He said: “It’s the death which is widely held to have been the catalyst for the riots of 2011 and so it’s a matter of national importance.”
Underwood set out facts about the death that have been established so far.
Duggan’s fingerprints were found on a shoebox which police believed contained a gun he had collected 15 minutes before he was confronted by officers and shot dead.
There is no trace of Duggan’s DNA or fingerprints on the gun or sock in which it was contained. Tests have found no gunshot residue on Duggan’s hands or waistband. One speck was found in his backpocket but Underwood told the hearing this was “scientifically irrelevant”.
After the hearing at North London coroner’s court, Duggan’s mother Pamela said the delays had caused her anguish: “It’s heartbreaking for me. He’s my son. It’s taken me a lot of courage to come here today. He was only 29 and he was killed and he’s got children.”
Her sister Carole said: “They’re very lax about how they go about things, quite incompetent. We’ve never trusted the IPCC from the beginning.”
Another factor for the delay of the inquest lies in finding a venue large enough to accommodate the press and public and deal with technical requirements.
Cutler scheduled another pre-inquest hearing for 28 March.
Proceedings at the supreme court in Westminster and parts of the Scottish higher courts are already televised regularly and legislation to expand the use of cameras in court is currently going through parliament in the crime and courts bill. That is only expected to allow the judges’ summing up and some of the main legal submissions to be broadcast initially.