New inquest into death of Jerry Duggan
A north London family's long, dogged fight for truth and justice for the death of their son was given a step forward today, when the High Court ordered a fresh inquest on Jeremiah Duggan. Lord Justice Elias said it must investigate evidence of "foul play".
Jeremiah Duggan, 22, from Golders Green, was studying at the Sorbonne and the British Institute in Paris when his concern at the impending Iraq war led him to attend what he took to be an international peace conference in Germany, in March 2003. He had heard about it through a paper called Nouvelle Solidarite.
What Jeremiah did not know was that Nouvelle Solidarite, and the Schiller Institute which hosted the conference, were fronts for American cult leader and convicted fraudster Lyndon LaRouche. But when the student heard people at the conference seeming to blame the war on Jews, he spoke up, saying that he was Jewish.
Exactly what happened afterwards we do not know.
Except that Jerry phoned home that night, saying that he was in "big trouble", and "frightened". And the next morning his dead body was found on the B455 motorway outside Wiesbaden, some miles from where he'd been staying.
A German inquest found he killed himself, apparently by running out into traffic. This was disputed by a British coroner in November 2003,who found that Jerry Duggan had been in a "state of terror", but accepted that the cause of death was head injuries after running into traffic. Unfortunately this inquest did not adjourn for fresh evidence.
Lord Justice Elias, sitting with Mr Justice Aikenhead, said fresh evidence suggested that the death may have occurred elsewhere and the accident "stage managed" to look like a road accident. It was alleged, said the judge, that one member of the LaRouche group had told his mother: "We have hunted him down... it is right that he is dead, he is a traitor and a spy."
Forensic experts who studied the evidence found the vehicles had been moved after the alleged accident, contrary to police procedure. Neither of them showed any biological traces such as might have been expected from hitting a body at speed. Nor were there any tire marks on Jeremiah Duggan's body or clothes.
Light brown sand on Jeremiah's jeans was similar to that between the treads of the vehicles' tires. But there was no sand like this on that stretch of motorway. That suggested the student and the cars might have been somewhere else, and the body was then taken to the place where it was found.
An expert who studied Jeremiah's head injuries thought they would have been caused by numerous repeated blows, rather than being struck by a vehicle. Lack of biological traces on the damaged vehicle windscreen suggested that rather than hitting a person, it could have been broken deliberately with a crowbar or some such implement so as to fake the appearance of an accident.
Juustice Elias said: "It is sufficient that fresh evidence here could alter the verdict.
"It puts in issue whether or not there may have been foul play.
"It is necessary that this fresh inquest is held if for no other reason than to seek to allay the suspicions naturally raised by the evidence which has now been produced to the court."
Following the ruling, Jeremiah Duggan's mother, Mrs Erica Duggan said: "The judge gave a brilliant judgment. No country has investigated my son's death properly as yet.
"The German state has failed us. The British state has an obligation to establish how Jeremiah died."
She hoped that the German authorities will reopen the case following this ruling.