Mark Duggan’s death has remained a painful and divisive subject, so maybe the BBC should leave it be 

The London Riots in 2011 are something I will never forget, not only for actually what happened but the journalistic side of it as well. Sparked by the death of Mark Duggan at the hands of the Metropolitan Police, the riots went on for several days and by the end, had lost all meaning.

The man at the centre of the cause, Mark Duggan, is to become the subject of a BBC film to begin filming next month. Unfortunately, despite the police officer implemented in the shooting of Mr Duggan being cleared of wrongdoing, it is still an issue that stirs up controversy and debate as to whether the shooting was right. With this in mind, I’m not sure whether the BBC is right in resurrecting a subject that provokes so much lively debate.

While it was likely to have been written without thinking, I think that the BBC journalist who wrote the article about the upcoming film was dangerously careless with the wording. An article from the 7th of August this year, in the second paragraph, contains the phrase: ‘The film will include interviews with Duggan’s friends and relatives, and the police. It begins shooting next month’. While this is industry terminology, to me, perhaps the word ‘filming’ may have been more appropriate than ‘shooting’ given the circumstances.

While I am not one to knock the standard of documentaries and impartiality at the BBC, perhaps three days after the  four-year anniversary of Duggan’s death was not the best time to announce this. Furthermore, the fact that the Duggan family agreed to participate in such a film surprises me. After the ruling in which the police officer who fired the fatal shot was found to have ‘lawfully killed’ Duggan, there was outrage from his family. It baffles me why anyone in that situation would get involved in a film such as this one.

Looking back into the circumstances of Duggans death, it is alleged that the BBC made errors in their coverage at the time. Whether that should play a part in the decision to pursue or abandon this film, I don’t know. On the other hand, I think that many see this as an opportunity for the BBC to right some of the supposed mistakes they made at the time.

Despite this, the BBC say they will be fair and balanced with their coverage, however, may I point out that they are required to do this as a public service broadcaster anyway. The case of Mr Duggan’s death will always be a murky subject, and while the BBC have said that they will look at all sides, I think this will be very difficult.

Media bias aside, the BBC have reopened a story that otherwise had a line drawn under it. Five years later, the world has moved on but never forgotten the horrible event of Duggan’s death and the riots that followed. Lessons were learned and while I appreciate the BBC’s usually outstanding investigative journalism, I think that this is a closed chapter that both the nation and the Duggan family have left behind.

In respect to those who were affected by Duggan’s death and consulting my own journalistic morals, I would leave this story. Nevertheless, the BBC will start filming next month, directed by Jamie D’Cruz and despite my lack of support for the film, I look forward to seeing the result.

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