Guardian office

The Guardian changed the online headline the day after publication

Credit: Michael Bruntonspall on Flickr. Some rights reserved
The Guardian has been found in breach of the editors' code of practice after making a "significant and avoidable" error in a story about the independent investigation into the shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham last summer, whose death was one of the events that triggered the London riots.

The Press Complaints Commission ruled that a November 2011 story headlined: "Revealed: man whose shooting triggered riots was not armed; Mark Duggan investigation finds he was not carrying gun when killed in Tottenham" was inaccurate and that the story did not back up the claim made in the headline and sub-head.

The PCC received complaints from the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the Metropolitan police, who argued that the headline was "substantially misleading" given that the IPCC investigation was still ongoing.

After receiving a complaint on the day of publication from the IPCC, the Guardian amended the sub-head in later print editions to say that there was "no forensic evidence" that Duggan had been carrying a gun when he was shot.

The next day, the headline to the article online was changed to "New questions raised over Duggan shooting", and the paper subsequently ran an item in its corrections column apologising for the errors.

The Guardian's readers' editor said the newspaper had taken too long to respond to the error and that there had been "serious failings" in its editorial processes.

In its ruling today, the PCC agreed that the Guardian's "initial delay in recognising the problem was a matter of regret", but it ruled that the Guardian then took adequate steps to fix the error.

PCC director Stephen Abell said in a release: "This was an important story about a man whose death had significant societal and political implications.

"The requirement for editors to 'take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information' is at the heart of the editors' code, and it was absolutely right for the newspaper to take the steps it did to properly remedy the situation once the error had been recognised".

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