My friend the Canadian journalist Terry Glavin has been delving into the story of Mark Duggan, whose shooting dead by a Metropolitan Police officer helped spark the recent riots which saw large parts of England’s inner cities go up in flames.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is tasked with investigating such incidents, has declared that it may have misled journalists into believing that the Tottenham man had shot at police before they returned fire. This is not actually the case, and one has to ask why the IPCC volunteered to take the rap for an error which clearly wasn’t theirs.
What happened was that a early statement from the IPCC – a statement that is essentially true – was spun out of all proportion by mass media hacks, and the rest is history. And ashes. When the truth emerged, the media then turned their rhetorical fire on the police.
What to say? I doubt that the offending Lunchtime O’Boozes will lose much sleep over the matter. Indeed, their creative embellishment of the truth created an absolute whopper of a story, and in these amoral times such narratives are all that matters. Trebles all round!
Not only have the media blamed the police for pretty much all that went wrong these past couple of weeks, so has the government, the leading figures of which were forced to cut short their holidays in the sun, and return to face the music at home.
Prime minister David Cameron, home secretary Theresa May and others went on a PR offensive and claimed that they had taken full control of the situation. The trouble is that few believe them. British police commanders tend not have a go in public at their political masters, but in this case they pulled no punches. Hugh Orde’s Newsnight interview yesterday, and today’s damning with faint praise, were quite masterful.
This is turning out to be a major clusterfuck for the government, which must be the one positive thing to emerge from the riots.