The Queen (on the Application of Pamela Duggan) v HM Assistant Deputy Coroner for the Northern District of Greater London Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis and Others (Interested Parties)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtQueen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
JudgeSir Brian Leveson P
Judgment Date14 Oct 2014
Neutral Citation[2014] EWHC 3343 (Admin)
Docket NumberCO/833/2014,Case No: CO/833/2014

[2014] EWHC 3343 (Admin)




Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL



( The Rt Hon Sir Brian Leveson)

The Hon Mr Justice Burnett

His Honour Judge Peter Thornton Q.C. (CHIEF CORONER)

Case No: CO/833/2014

The Queen (on the Application of Pamela Duggan)
Her Majesty's Assistant Deputy Coroner for the Northern District of Greater London


(1) Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis
(2) National Crime Agency (formerly Serious Organised Crime Agency)
(3) S.C.& O.19 Officers
(4) Z51
(5) Independent Police Complaints Commission
(6) Ds Andrew Belfield
(7) Dc Steve Faulkner
Interested Parties

Michael Mansfield Q.C., Leslie ThomasQ.C. andAdam Straw (instructed by Birnberg Peirce, London) for the Claimant

Ashley Underwood Q.C. (instructed by Judi Kemish) for the Assistant Deputy Coroner

Hugo Keith Q.C. (instructed by the Director of Legal Services, Metropolitan Police) for the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis

Samantha Leek Q.C. (instructed by Simon Armstrong of the N.C.A. Legal Department) for the National Crime Agency

Ian Stern Q.C. and David Patience (instructed by Slater Gordon, London) for S.C.& O.19 Officers

Jonathan Glasson Q.C. (instructed by Legal Services I.P.C.C.) for the I.P.C.C.

Z51, DS Andrew Belfield and DC Steve Faulkner did not appear and were not represented.

Hearing dates: 9–10 July 2014

Sir Brian Leveson P



This is the judgment of the Court to which all members have contributed.


On 4 August 2011, Mark Wayne Duggan was shot dead by a police officer, known at the inquest as V53. At the conclusion of the inquest into his death the jury answered a series of questions left to them by the Recorder of Winchester, His Honour Judge Cutler C.B.E., sitting as Assistant Deputy Coroner for the Northern District of Greater London ["the Coroner"] and recorded their conclusion that he was 'lawfully killed'. In answering the questions the jury indicated they were sure that at the moment he was shot, Mr Duggan did not have a gun in his hand although he had done so very shortly beforehand. A verdict of unlawful killing had been left to them. That they rejected. The verdict of lawful killing signified that the jury were satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the police officer acted in lawful self-defence, applying the law of self-defence as understood in criminal rather than civil courts. This claim for judicial review challenges the finding of lawful killing.


The grounds upon which the claim is brought are fourfold, expressed in these terms:

i) The Coroner ought to have directed the jury that if they were sure Mr Duggan did not have a gun at the moment he was shot, they could not return a conclusion of lawful killing. That was necessary to avoid inconsistent conclusions, and to avoid a conclusion for which there was not sufficient evidence.

ii) A mistaken belief in the existence of an imminent threat cannot found a conclusion of lawful killing at an inquest unless it was also a reasonable mistake. That is the first part of the civil, but not criminal, test for self-defence in English law. The claimant submits that the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights ["The Strasbourg Court"] requires the reasonableness criterion to be included; alternatively it is submitted that this court should decide that the domestic civil law test is the appropriate one for a conclusion of lawful killing at an inquest, albeit not for unlawful killing.

iii) In any event, the Coroner misdirected the jury on the meaning of lawful killing because he failed to make it clear that they should be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that V53 mistakenly believed in an imminent threat, rather than that he may have believed in that threat.

iv) Lethal force by a state agent is only lawful if it is 'absolutely necessary' in all the circumstances – it is not enough that the force was 'reasonable'. On the facts of this case the difference between the two tests was sufficiently great to result in a breach of the procedural obligation under Article 2.

Mitting J refused permission to apply on the first and fourth grounds but granted permission on the second and third. Mr Michael Mansfield Q.C., for the claimant, renews the application in relation to the grounds where leave was refused. He also submits that grounds (ii) to (iv) should be considered cumulatively when deciding whether there was a breach of the procedural obligation under Article 2 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as reflected in English law by the Human Rights Act 1998 ["the ECHR"].


It is important to underline that the claimant, Mr Duggan's mother, does not challenge the rejection by the jury of a conclusion of unlawful killing. That carries two significant implications. First, it is common ground that the Coroner's direction on unlawful killing satisfied the domestic law of murder but also, subject to a reservation as to whether an objective element should be incorporated into the first limb of the direction on self defence (which it is acknowledged did not fall for decision in this appeal), the requirements of the ECHR. Second, it is not in issue that there was evidence upon which the jury were entitled to reject a finding of unlawful killing.


Putting the matter another way, the claimant does not challenge the jury's conclusion that they were not sure that the killing was not in lawful self defence. The double negative is of importance, even though cumbersome. Rather, the challenge is limited to the positive conclusion, reached on the balance of probabilities, of lawful killing: Mr Mansfield submits that this conclusion should be quashed. He does not argue that there should be a further inquest and, having reflected on section 35(1) of the Senior Courts Act 1981 as amended by section 141 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 (which permits the court to substitute its own decision but only if, without the error, there would have been only one decision which the inquest could have reached), does not submit that an open conclusion or verdict should be substituted. The effect of quashing the conclusion of lawful killing would, in reality, have the same effect.


As we shall elaborate, the operation which culminated in Mr Duggan's death was intelligence led. It was based upon information that Mr Duggan was transporting a firearm across London. The minicab in which he was being driven was stopped in Ferry Lane, London by armed police officers. It was 18:12.43 on 4 August 2011. Within 10 seconds (and on the evidence it may have been as few as four seconds), he had been fatally injured. He was shot twice by V53. A police officer, W42, was also hit by one of those bullets but it lodged in his radio. Mr Duggan's death was a spark, the end result of which was substantial public disorder across the country. As the law requires, the investigation into the circumstances of his death has been rigorous. The inquest lasted between 16 September 2013 and 9 January 2014, taking evidence from 93 witnesses with statements of a further 21 non-contentious witnesses being read.


Transcripts of all the evidence (including at least part of the witness statements), along with the many exhibits were available to the jury during the inquest and whilst they were in retirement. They were treated to a thorough analysis of the facts in the Coroner's summing up. No criticism is made of the conduct of the inquest either as to its procedure or the evidence that was placed before it. During the course of the hearing, it did not appear to be suggested that the factual inquiry was not conducted in full compliance with the procedural obligations under Article 2 ECHR. It has since been said that the claimant contends that there are or may be grounds for so arguing: no such point was taken before us.


The questions left to the jury had not been agreed in advance but were fashioned by the Coroner after full argument and a comprehensive ruling. The jury were provided with the prescribed particulars of the name of the deceased, the medical cause of death (gunshot wound to the chest), and where and when he died. They went on to answer five questions before dealing with their conclusions. The term 'verdict' has been superseded by 'conclusion'.


In answer to Question One, the jury unanimously found that between midday on 3 August and 18.00 on 4 August 2011 the Metropolitan Police and the Serious Organised Crime Agency had not done the best they realistically could to gather and react to intelligence about the possibility of Mr Duggan collecting a gun from a man named Hutchinson Foster. They elaborated that finding by indicating that there was a lack of current intelligence on Hutchinson Foster with no emphasis on exhausting all avenues which could have affected reaction and subsequent actions. It was also indicated that the police had been provided with insufficient information on intelligence gathering activity after 21.00 on 3 August before further intelligence came in on 4 August. In answer to Question Two, the jury unanimously found that the taxi in which Mr Duggan was travelling was stopped in a location and in a way which minimised to the greatest extent possible recourse to lethal force. In answer to Question Three the jury unanimously found that Mr Duggan had a gun with him in the minicab immediately before it was stopped by police.


That gun was found on an area of grass close to where Mr Duggan was shot. Question...

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2 cases
  • R Officer W80 v Director General of the Independent Office for Police Conduct
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    • Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
    • 14 Agosto 2019
    ...(Sir Brian Leveson P, Burnett J (as he then was) and Judge Peter Thornton QC) in R (Duggan) v North London Assistant Deputy Coroner [2014] EWHC 3343 (Admin); [2016] 1 WLR 525 at [31] to [36]: “31 The law of self-defence in England and Wales is different in the criminal law from the civil ......
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    • 29 Marzo 2017
    ...“lawful killing” the appellant brought judicial review proceedings challenging the adequacy of the directions given to the jury (see [2014] Inquest LR 232). On those proceedings being dismissed she appealed. It was argued that self-defence for the purposes of the coronial jurisdiction shoul......

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