Away from Plebgate, there’s another police conspiracy. But neither the Tories or the media want to talk about it

by Sam Fowles

The Tories are only too willing to tolerate police corruption, so long as it’s people they don’t like who are the victims.

It’s almost Conan-Doyleesque. The blundering plods exposed by the quick wittedness of the (almost) aristocratic amateur. The emotional toll of the corrupt peelers’ betrayal, hitherto manfully concealed from the world, only revealed by the plaintive intervention of his loving daughter.

Except this isn’t a Sherlock Holmes story. This actually happened. Three police representatives have been exposed as liars after Andrew Mitchell revealed the recording he made of their meeting.

But the pious cries of corruption from Conservative MPs and their supporters in the media ring embarrassingly hollow when one considers their historic attitude to police malpractice.

The reality is that, when the victim is a rich, white, Conservative, police corruption represents a threat to our very democracy. If, however, the victim happens to be poor, black or a member of a group with which the right disagrees politically, then the thundering waves of outrage become rapidly tranquil.

They have, for example, remained positively glassy regarding the case of Mark Duggan, the man whom the police shot dead in 2011, sparking nationwide riots.

Let us, for a moment, consider the unfolding Duggan inquest.

The police, specifically three police officers involved, identified as W42, V53 and W70, claim that they followed Duggan from Tottenham to Leyton in unmarked cars and watched him pick up a package which, intelligence lead them to believe, was a firearm. They then followed him back to Tottenham until ordered to stop and detain him.

When the police stopped the taxi in which Duggan was traveling, Duggan got out of the vehicle, apparently to attempt to escape on foot. According to the police officers he exited the taxi either with his hand already in his jacket or reaching inside.

V53 alleges that he saw Duggan take a gun from his jacket, at which point he fired two shots into Duggan’s torso and arm. If this is true then V53’s claim that he had an “honestly held”  fear for his life is entirely justified.

But crime scene evidence, eye witnesses and the inconsistencies in the testimony of the officers themselves throw doubt on the police account. For a verdict of “lawful killing” to be reached the coroner’s court must be convinced of two things: (i) The officer who fired the shot must have honestly believed that it was necessary to defend himself and (ii) the force he used must have been reasonable considering the circumstances. This is a slightly complicated test because it combines both objective and subjective elements. The jury must be convinced that V53 was subjectively in fear for his own safety but that, objectively, shooting Duggan was reasonable considering the circumstances.

Put more simply, in this case V53 must have believed that Duggan was going to shoot him.

As such, whether or not Duggan had and was drawing the gun is key. It’s also where the police case falls down.

The police found a gun  in a hedgerow 20 feet away from where Duggan was shot. No eyewitnesses saw the gun flying through the air while one eyewitness claims she saw the police find the gun in the taxi. This suggests that, at best, Duggan threw the gun away before he left the taxi and, at worst, he left it in the taxi and it was planted in it’s recorded position by the police.

Either way it casts doubt on the police account. More importantly the police officers on the scene are actually contradicting each other.

V45 says he saw Duggan reaching inside his jacket and shouted “he’s reaching, he’s reaching”, prompting V53 to fire.

V53 claims that Duggan raised his hand inside his jacket with, what looked like, a gun, at which point he fired.

Another officer, R31, suggests they thought Duggan was trying to run away, not fire at police.

Coroner’s courts make decisions based on a “balance of probabilities”, which is an easier test than the “beyond reasonable doubt” used in criminal courts.

As such it’s conceivable that the court could reach a verdict of lawful killing even if the jury don’t completely buy the police story. But that’s not the point. The inquest has shown clear contradictions in the police evidence, indicative of some sort of cover up. The inquest has been going on for over a month yet it has received nothing like the coverage that the Andrew Mitchell affair has enjoyed.

This is neither the first, nor the only example. When striking miners were savagely beaten at Orgreave then framed for heinous crimes, Conservative ministers were busy stoking fears of the “enemy within”. When the McPherson Report exposed the corruption which allowed Stephen Lawrence’s killers walked free, it was condemned by the Conservative leadership.

When the Birmingham Six were tortured and falsely imprisoned, Conservative backbenchers continued to slander them five years after they had been exonerated. Where are the pages of the right wing press devoted to the personal story of Mark Duggan’s family members?

The reality is that the Tories are only too willing to tolerate police corruption, so long as it’s people they don’t like who are the victims.

Police corruption is a blight on our rule of law and Andrew Mitchell is no less a victim of it than the Lawrences, the Orgreave miners, the Birmingham Six and (possibly) Mark Duggan. Doreen Lawrence used her tragedy to raise national support behind police reforms.

Unless Andrew Mitchell does the same, the Tory bellows of righteous indignation will remain nothing more than the hollow screeching of hypocrites.

Sam Fowles is a researcher in International Law and Politics at Queen Mary, University of London

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13 Responses to “Away from Plebgate, there’s another police conspiracy. But neither the Tories or the media want to talk about it”

  1. John reid says:

    Intelligence lead them to believe it was a gun:-CCTV saw duggan get a gun, so they were right,

    The police found a ha gun in hedge row 20 feet way, actually it was 10-14 feet,

    Regarding William hagues criticism of the Macpherson report what he actually said was
    Peope were exploiting the report,and it was being used to say a that all police were reacts, even Bernie Grant went on TV to say he didn’t need to apologise for saying P.C Blakelocks anti white racist murder was a bloody good hiding that he got, as the police were racist, witness Former Labour M.P Ann cryer saying the other day on Tav that when she went to police to say that their re were Muslim grooming gangs abusing girls,she was told that the police were too afraid to arrest these men,through fear of being called racists ,

    The Macpherson report didn’t expose corruption that saw the killers walk free, that investigation was based on the account sht the right people had done,it got off,a nd that the abolition of double jeopardy should be brought in. It found two things,one that there was no instances of racism but the system was institutionally racist, that there wasn’t one iota of evidence that the suspects actually did it, it also found that it was quite right for the original prosecution to throw out the case,as it was clear that Dwayne Brooke’s saying originally that he could identify three men, was wrong as he later admitted he couldn’t,

    Orgreave and the miners trike, remind me, how many miners died through police a cation at the strike, oh yes non,e how many people who going about their democratic right to do work during the strike were,I led by miners. Oh yes, taxi driver David Wilkie,

    The witness who said she saw police find the gun in the car ,had been discredited, same as the witness who said he saw, Duggan running away form police,
    One Tory M.P did indeed say off the record that he thought the birmingham 6 did, it, in the Spectator, same as the daily mail have so far claimed several times that Jason Accourt and. Luke knight two men innocent in terms of the law, actually killed Stephen Lawrence

    There has never been proved that the orgreave miners or the Lawrence suffered from
    Police corruption,and so far neither have the police in the Mitchell saga,

    I thought I was reading socialist unity when I first logged on,

  2. John reid says:

    Come to think of it, just because someone contradicts the police account of events doesn’t mean,the police events are untrue, David Norris and Gary Dobsons parents said that their kids were with them ,when stephen Lawrence was killed, and this has been proved untrue,

  3. swatantra says:

    Although it may be subjudice, but that shouldn’t prevent us from speculating.
    We know that Duggan was a petty villan, and there is an admission from someone already that he supplied a gun to Duggan. So, the gun could not have appeared from nowhere. What has not been established is how the gun ended up in the bushes. The suggestion made is that Duggan threw it there. That is the most likely explanation.
    There is no evidence as yet to prove otherwise, unlike the compelling evidence in the current Court Martial against 3 soldiers alledged to have murdered an Afghan terrorist.

  4. John reid says:

    Having re read this ,there’s no contradiction of police accounts and also this doesn’t take I to account that other witnesses who’ve said things like the gun was plan ted or that he was shot while laying on the ground or dragged out of the taxi have been contradicted there’s not been one serious statement that could undermine the police account of events,

  5. John reid says:

    It’s also worth pointing out that conservative M.P Peter bottom lye was the first person who kept asking questions about the lack of police in estimation into Stephen Lawrences murder, and the way his family had been treated,

  6. Ex-Labour says:

    It would appear from cursory research that Sam Fowles is yet another student politico who has not yet formed any opinion outside that of the sixth form common room.

    I have now read several of his missives and they are merely puff pieces aimed at intertwinning current events and his hate firures of “Tories” or “the right” in general within some form of conspiracy theory. He is clearly yet another of the leftards who thinks anyone who does not support Leftwing views is evil.

    Sam, for your information I lived through the miners strike in a minining area (where I still live today) and most of my family were miners at the time. Yes, police did some very unsavoury things, but miners did equally unsavory things also – particularly to other miners they once called friends. You have no idea what is was like and what it did to families so lets have no more of your rubbish.

    As for Duggan. Everyone acknowledges that he was a criminal and was in possession of a gun and as a law student you are probably aware of the dangers of eye witness evidence.

    My suggestion is to grow up, take the chip of your left shoulder and stop writing drivel until such time you know what you’re actually talking about.

  7. Rallan says:

    “The reality is that the Tories are only too willing to tolerate police corruption, so long as it’s people they don’t like who are the victims.”

    Your article is an obvious, immature and ugly political smear attack against the Tories (aka People You Don’t Like) rather than a sincere demand for justice. Also, Duggan was no angel and the Police account in this case is far from discredited. Grow up.

  8. John reid says:

    Where that Tory did say the birmingham 6 were probably guilty, it’s worth noting that the Daily mail, as well as stating that the Lawrence suspects were guilty after being cleared, four times said that Colin stagg was guilty despite being cleared, twice the victim fiancée of the victim (Rachel Nickell) said that Colin stagg shouldn’t get any compensation, and hoped he would be found guilty under the abolition of double jeopardy, so it’s not only the right wingers who slur, politically different people when accusing them o f crimes they didn’t commit,

  9. Gordy says:

    Sam Fowles is the kind of idiot who loses Labour election. There are a lot of decent, law-abiding people in our society who are suffering and deserve our support. Instead, he chooses to focus on Mark Duggan, a career criminal who was a member of one of London’s most violent gangs. He was the kind of scumbag who preys on the vulnerable. He was known to be heavily involved in drug dealing and guns. Why would we NOT give the benefit of the doubt to police officers doing a dangerous job?

    The truth is that Sam Fowles is not real Labour. He’s a toytown revolutionary who sees undermining the police as a vital revolutionary task. Ridiculous, yes – but harmful too. Send him back to the SWP where he belongs.

  10. Sam says:

    Hi all, thanks for the comments. Thought I might take a moment to respond to some as there has been so much interest in this piece.

    I’m probably not going to go into the ad hominem stuff in too much detail. There’s nothing I can really rebut – if you think I’m an areshole then my options for dissuading you of the notion are relatively limited. I would encourage everyone to proof read though. Badly spelled insults tend to pack less punch…

    I’m going to try to group the criticisms of my argument and deal with them in sections:

    1. “Other people have done hypocritical things like this as well. Why pick on the Tories?”
    (I think this was mainly from John Reid – the stuff about the Daily Mail accusing people in the Lawrence trial)

    Taken in it’s reduced form this argument is rather tautologous. Yes, other people have accused innocent people of crimes, but if one took this attitude then one would never point out any hypocrisy. The Conservative party opened themselves up to this criticism when they made such a fuss about “Plebgate”. My point was that complaints about police corruption, while legitimate, ring hollow when the complainant has done so much to endorse or benefit from it in the past.

    2. The miners’ strike

    The main criticisms of my citing the Orgreave case seem to be that the miners did nasty things as well as the police (John and “Ex-Labour”) and that there is no evidence that the police did anything wrong at Orgreave.

    To take them separately:

    a. “Ex-Labour”, you’re right to say I didn’t live through the miners’ strike. However, as a number of people have demonstrated (beginning with Thucydides and continuing ad infinitum – they’re called historians) it’s possible to make a legitimate comment on a past event without having experienced it oneself. Based on a historical examination, I agree with you when you say that the miners exhibited discreditable behaviour. However, I would argue that the use of the coercive power of the state in the cause of a narrow political interest, while no less a crime than personal or group bullying, is one with more dramatic societal implications. The police have a greater responsibility to ensure their behaviour is beyond reproach because they should be a symbol of trust in society. When they assault miners/protestors/random street traders it is more distressing than a common case of battery or GBH because the offender is a symbol of the very rule of law that they are violating.

    John – although David Wilkie was killed by miners, a court found that his death was accidental (it’s a fairly important case in terms of constructive manslaughter). But that doesn’t make it any more excusable. However, it should also be noted that David Jones and Joe Green were miners who met their death in suspicious circumstances while picketing.

    3. The McPherson/Lawrence issue

    John – evidently there was eventually quite considerable evidence for the guilt of those eventually convicted of his murder…

    The issue of “do the police allow crime to happen for fear of being labelled racist” is actually quite an interesting one. Not least because I just gave a lecture on a very similar subject. The reality is that, while it’s easy to find anecdotal evidence of this happening, it’s impact is incredibly limited. Police didn’t fail to spot pedophile rings in Oxford etc because they didn’t want to seem racist. They failed to spot them because they didn’t take the initial complaints of the victims seriously because they were young girls with supposedly questionable lifestyles. Bluntly put, misogyny was the issue, not racism. There are a myriad of different reasons why police fail to investigate crime, the majority with considerably more significant academic backing than the (we were scared of seeming racist” excuse.

    In terms of evidence of police corruption regarding Orgreave. Aside from the fact that 95 miners were charged and none convicted, the trial itself revealed that police reports had been doctored and that police attacked miners first.

    4. Duggan

    The most worrying thing here is the repeated idea that “everyone knew Duggan was a criminal”. This is something which can have simply no bearing on any sort of case. The law doesn’t work on what “everyone knows” the law works on what is proved. In the eyes of the law Mark Duggan remains an innocent man because he has not been convicted in a court of law regarding this matter. It doesn’t matter what else goes on, because the law regards him as innocent he must be treated as such.

    However, even if this was not the case we should still not be talking about the “benefit of the doubt”. The reason that our legal system is renown the world over is that it treats everyone the same. The law applies to everyone. If Jesus shot Beelzebub, it would still be murder. It doesn’t matter whether Duggan was a crook or the police do a difficult job. If a police officer shot him without an honest belief in the danger he presented or that action was not reasonable in the circumstances then the inquest must return a verdict of unlawful killing.

    “Ex-Labour”, as a lawyer (I ceased to be a “law student” some time ago), I am somewhat familiar with the rules of evidence. However, eyewitness testimony can be as valuable (if not more so) as forensics.

    In the case of Duggan the police accounts contradict each other, John, because V45 says he saw Duggan reach for the weapon. V53 claims he already had it or was pointing it through his coat and R31 says he was running away. This is contradiction. Even if the other accounts are discredited (and you should remember John, that “cross examined” does not mean “discredited” – that’s for a jury to decide) then this contradiction remains. This is to say nothing of the fact that certain officers admit changing their accounts.

    That’s only a very brief précis of my thoughts on this but it should answer some of the major issues.

    I would also add that, yes Rallan, this is an incredibly obvious criticism. The reason I wrote it was that it is so obvious that it seemed amazing that no one else had made this point already!

    Right, that’s it from me. I’m off to plan the revolution with Noddy and Bigears…

  11. John reid says:

    I note this article has now been printed in Huffington posts website, Sam at last has replied to the inconsistencies he’s been proved to have suggested here,

    For the record he also points out that the lawful/unlawful death verdict that the jury have to find, is on the balance of probabilities, not beyond reasonable doubt, that’s because no one is facing a murder trial,if there’s a unlawful killing, that may come later, but can he tell us and the jury what beyond reasonable donut, or the balance of probabilities to mean, what is important here is what side of events the jury believes, and that’ll be based on the logic of who appears to be telling the truth, so far no police ,have appeared to have lied, been mistaken or got things wrong, it’s only the prosecution who appear to not be in full information of the facts,

    1 joe green was pushed under a lorry by other miners ,David jones had a hearta Ttack, Kim Howells labour M.P on hearing of Wilkies death went to the office where he had notes that showed he sent the miners to the bridge where they had thrown the brick that killed Wilkie, and Howells shredded the evidence, he was arrested in 2004 because oft his, yes his death was an accident but the growing bricks from bridges on cars is stupid

    Yes years later there was evidence that David norris( a new suspect from the original investigation) and Gary Dobson. Cleared suspect were found guilty of Lawrence murder, but AT&T he time of the Macpherson report both the new police chief ,who got the Lawrence family trust, and Macpherson concluded there wasn’t one iota of evidence that they’d done it, as for Accourt and knight who were accused and cleared, being pulled to the Macpherson inquiry, they’re still innocent in terms of the law, If nicholas Jacobs is found a guilty of P.C Blakelocks murder next year, anyone who can read David Rose climate of fear, will note that he was named 9 times alongside 5 of the men who were either originally cleared at the first murder prosecution for Blaelocks death, or were found guilty and then cleared a couple of years later, the fact that Accourt and Knight were named alongside David Norris at the Macpherson inquiry, and he was found guilty, doesn’t mean they did it, or it would mean if Jacobs is found guilty, that the 5 men who he was named alongside 28 years ago, would also be guilty,

    Regarding the police being afraid to do something through fear of being called racist, I note not only was Tommy Robinson ex of the EDL arrested for dare near going near the cenotaph, the police trying to appease the politically correct, he was arrested, by minority export pre cog crime, for possible future breach of the peace, in case he may break a crime in the future, and was also arrested in Woolwich for the crime of being punched in the face, the police trying to win the appeal of the do gooders,

    There is a Nigerian Pastor in my neck of the woods, who does a lot to reveal to the police, the cruel practice of genital mutilation, at own person risk to himself, with the demographic changes and the police cuts, the true extent to this awful act ,will soon be revealed and shock people, but the police were to afraid to tackle this for years.

    LasTly regarding Duggqn and the police ,it is possible to be reaching for a gun, getting a gun out of ones pocket and try to run away at the same time,

  12. Ex-Labour says:

    @ Sam

    I see yet another chippy response.

    I agree that the police have a duty, as the upholders of law and order and in a position of trust and authority, they should be beyond reproach. However your article was biased to one side (as are all your articles from what I have read). I would reccommend dropping the leftie, bleeding heart lawyer stuff and put a better perspective on events.

    I agree also that the police were sent to the picket lines to cause trouble and antagonise miners – I had this confirmed from one metropolitan officer sent to my area at the time. Clearly the state was using its power in a coersive manner. But as you wern’t around at the time you will probably not be familiar with disasterous Labour governments which had allowed the country to be taken over by the unions.

    I didnt see Thucydides on the picket line or I would have said hello. But what I can tell you is that if the police / state set the trap the miners played straight into their hands through violence and intimidation against those who disagreed. I have friends who were sent to prison (quite rightly) for offences ranging from assault to arson. Equally I know those who had charges fabricated against them purely for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fortunately most of these cases were thrown out at court through lack of evidence.

    The truth is that the hard left miners leadership saw this as a political battle rather than an industrial dispute. It was never going to end well for either side. Much the same as Red Ed and McLusky’s Unite. It will end in tears.

    Incidentally did you follow the court case where Scargill wanted the miners union to continue to pay for his flat in London – about £34K per year if I recall ? Thats what I like about lefties, they love equality, so long as they are more equal than others.

    As for Duggan, the police have done many wrongs over the years, but in this case having intelligence that he was in possession of a firearm I would be inclined towards their side of events. As I saw in the miners strike, when a situation evolves quickly eyewitness accounts are often contradictary.

  13. Rallan says:

    I’m not going to get into a debate about this article. What’s the point? The article and authors response to comments are simply an unsupported smear against People the author Does Not Like using intentionally partial / distorted evidence.

    The author deliberately wrote something false and unjust, then posted it where he could find a politically sympathetic and uncritical audience to reinforce it. I am pleased to say that he misjudged Labour Uncut, where most of the readership is better than that.

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