Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Well, I'd say there were two sure facts about the outcome of the Duggan inquiry before it even started, and these were

a) The verdict would almost certainly be "Mistakes were made but everyone acted in good faith and they all emerge with their integrity intact, except maybe for the dead guy", because that's usually the result of just about every inquiry into public officials major and minor, and

b) Huge numbers of people were then going to go apeshit about it along pretty predictable lines.

Now, I'm reflexively inclined towards scepticism for the authorities on issues like the police capping civilians in the street, not least because we've had enough demonstrations recently of how major organisations, public bodies and businesses close ranks in a crisis. 

What I will say is that the immediate "It's a stitch-up!" response from much of the public is understandable, given the number of killings, stadium disasters and official assaults on the citizenry that were dismissed as mere mistakes made in good faith or the paranoia of extreme political groups at the time, only to emerge as the worst kind of criminal skullduggery thirty years later, once everyone involved is safely resigned or dead. 

I mean, look - if the authorities are capable of sliming out of culpability for a Hillsborough disaster or for an all-out militarised assault on the miners or a three-way conspiracy against the nation like the News International scandal, only for the ugly truth to be dragged out years later, that's going to encourage a lot of people to look askance at a Duggan inquiry, or a Chilcot one for that matter.

It's not that every controversy involving the police or the government is necessarily a conspiracy against the public interest.  It's more that even a vague grasp on the history of similar events should naturally incline the citizenry towards a healthy suspicion, in our own interest if nothing else.

10 comments:

Organic cheeseboard said...

Can't disagree with any of that. I have absolutely no idea why the police seemingly think it's ok to actively encourage their officers to meet up and come to a consensus on cases like this before writing their "individual" statements. It is very clear that every officer involved lied in their evidence here, as with the JCDM case (collectively claiming something that the laws of physics demonstrate is impossible, presumably because this is the best story they could come up with to disguise their guilt).

They really don't do themselves any favours do they?

Bruschettaboy said...

Wellllll ... all reasonable generic points, but as with the NatWest Three and Gary McKinnon cases, wouldn't it be a better idea to choose a less ludicrously unattractive test case?

I mean, this is one of the cases in which it is actually true that mistakes are bound to be made. If you're a career criminal carrying an illegal gun and armed police are after you because they think (with decent reason) that you're about to shoot someone, then when you get out of your car, turn toward the armed policeman who has you covered and raise your hands suddenly, then you need to be thinking:

"ohshitohshitohshit I really hope I get a massive positive stroke of luck right now, because in the natural way of things, I am at very great risk of imminent death".

Not

"hoop de doo, just picked up a copy of Metro and on my way down to the Tube, as long as everyone behaves in a reasonably normal way and nothing out of the ordinary happens, I am highly unlikely to be shot dead today".

This can't be compared to the Menezes case, where a series of horrific organisational fuckups and an atmosphere of repulsive machismo and heightened paranoia led to a completely innocent civilian being killed when he was doing nothing wrong. It's a case where a series of relatively minor fuckups and an atmosphere of entirely legitimate fear led to an armed criminal being killed in circumstances where it might have been avoided.

flyingrodent said...

Much fair-pointness there, and I'm not going to put much time or effort into bashing the coppers in this particular instance.

I thought all this was worth noting because of the "Why are people so very irrational about the police shooting people" tone of a lot of the reaction I've seen.

Well, that reaction can't really be understood without the wider context, which involves many public organisations - and the Met in particular - bullshitting their way out of investigations, only for their culpability to be dragged into the open years later by reporting or FOI.

As with the Natwest Three etc this can often lead to folk jumping on the wrong hobby-horses, but I'd say the inclination towards scepticism is entirely natural and, in the majority of cases, probably advisable.

ejh said...

I'm not going to put much time or effort into bashing the coppers in this particular instance.

I think it's worth putting a fair amount of time bashing the coppers, for the reasons given in the first comment, to wit the monumental amount of police lying involved, which tends to resemble, rather than not resemble, what has occurred in other cases. Also because, you know, what's occurred is the serial abuse of the law to cover up the killing of a black man in London, and because the law is not supposed to be put into abeyance because of the dubious moral qualities of the suspect, and all sorts of other very good reasons.

flyingrodent said...

Yes - to be clear, I mean "by comparison with other, even more flagrant horrors" rather than "Because I think the police have acted with the utmost integrity".

ejh said...

Incidentally, this post has no title. Did you throw it out of the window before posting?

Organic cheseboard said...

Dsquared, I agree this isn't the best example, but it does follow a more general pattern of fuck-up followed by horrifically unprofessional coverup, including smearing the victim, lying about what happened, and then colluding on evidence to get stories straight and refusing to answer questions. I'm fairly sure in this instance that the man who shot him did genuinely feel his life was in danger, but he definitely did lie after the event - it is now 100% certain that he didn't see a gun in Duggan's hand but his evidence relied on this being the case - he said it was definitely there, rather than saying "I saw something and thought it was a gun". These people don't gather intelligence, and by the time they're called out it is likely there's a reason for it, so I can understand why they felt under threat - but why lie about it? That's surely the problem.

It also seems clear that Duggan was not as high-ranking as they claimed, nor did he shoot at police as first claimed, etc. The riots started because of the way the police handled this after the event - thankfully it does look like they are going to change their approach now.

septicisle said...

The thing that perplexes me is the jury were specifically asked to rule on how the gun got to where it was found, despite no one seeing Duggan throwing it (or at least none of the officers admitted to seeing it being thrown, while none of the witnesses saw him do so either) and no one giving evidence to say they believed that's what must of happened, although it conceivably could have done. They seem to have reached the decision Duggan threw it purely on guesswork, or been misdirected to rule on it, which makes me think that's why the verdict's likely to be overturned at judicial review.

That's not to say it's not the most obvious explanation, and that V53 in typical London firearms officer fashion when it comes to stopping those they've been told are tooled up and ready to go shot and asked questions later, it's that a conspiracy is possible which makes it so potentially toxic. Add in that if the jury's version of events is correct all the police officers involved are lying through their teeth and it looks incredibly bad. It isn't a de Menezes style ultra fuck-up, and it still enrages me Cressida Dick is in a job considering her role on that day, but that's not going to mean much in Haringey.

flyingrodent said...

EJH: this post has no title. Did you throw it out of the window before posting?

The best one I could think of was "Ooh, Shoots You, Sir", which didn't really convey the appropriate level of gravitas, I felt.

Cheeseboard: Dan can speak for himself, but I imagine he'd agree with much of that.

On a tangent here: I notice that both the Times and the Telegraph chose to approach the story from the following angle - "This proves that the 2011 riots weren't justified, and were pure mindless thuggery".

Which is odd, when you think about it - after all, it was the police whose actions were under scrutiny, not the rioters.

Plus, we already had hundreds of criminal trials that already found that many of the rioters weren't justified, which is why most of them got Draconian sentences. I'd say that the riots have already been through the judicial process and been convicted.

But really, the thing that makes this especially weird is if you imagine what would've happened if the jury had returned a verdict of unlawful killing. Would the big right-wing rags have rushed to apologise to all the rioters it libelled? Would they print pictures of blazing buildings and guys looting shops under headlines like "JUSTIFIED" and "NOT MINDLESS"?

No, of course they wouldn't. So what's up with these editorials and think-pieces? It certainly isn't the old forelock-tugging act before authority, especially not after both papers put the boot right into the Met for that whole Plebgate malarkey.

Or could it just be that the Met must be infallible, right up until they run a smear-job on a high-profile Tory?

Odd, I think.

Bruschettaboy said...

The thing that perplexes me is the jury were specifically asked to rule on how the gun got to where it was found, despite no one seeing Duggan throwing it (or at least none of the officers admitted to seeing it being thrown, while none of the witnesses saw him do so either) and no one giving evidence to say they believed that's what must of happened, although it conceivably could have done.

As far as I can tell, the alternative hypothesis is that a police officer threw it (exactly why they would have wanted to, I do not understand). Jury rejected this theory, obvs. The family lawyers were at one point claiming that he never had a gun and the police planted it, but this doesn't appear to have stood up.

it does follow a more general pattern of fuck-up followed by horrifically unprofessional coverup, including smearing the victim, lying about what happened, and then colluding on evidence to get stories straight and refusing to answer questions

Oh I totally agree, but this is the job of the IPCC to investigate, not for a coroner's jury. I don't understand why so much was invested in an unlawful killing verdict which was always a long shot. On the other hand, since the very worst of the misinformation was put out by the IPCC itself, my hopes are not high on that one either.