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Tuesday, March 9, 1999 Published at 12:14 GMT


Police chief suspended

Mr Whitehouse has a reputation as a media-friendly liberal

The chief constable of Sussex police has been suspended after a report into the shooting of an unarmed man by firearms officers last year.

BBC Crime Correspondent Stephen Cape: James Ashley was unarmed and in bed when shot dead
The Police Complaints Authority has endorsed the recommendation to suspend Paul Whitehouse made by the Sussex Police Authority on Monday.

Mr Whitehouse's deputy Mark Jordan was suspended from duty two weeks ago.

The Sussex Police Authority considered the case against four officers before deciding to proceed against the chief constable and his second in command.

The decision was taken after the authority examined two reports into the fatal shooting of 39-year-old James Ashley on 15 January last year.

Rude awakening

[ image: Mark Jordan: Suspended two weeks ago]
Mark Jordan: Suspended two weeks ago
Mr Ashley is understood to have been unarmed and asleep in bed with his girlfriend when officers raided his flat in St Leonard's-on-Sea, East Sussex, in the early hours of the morning.

A single shot was fired and he died at the scene.

In the aftermath of the killing Sussex police said Mr Ashley was a suspected drug dealer wanted in connection with a stabbing at a pub in the town.

But the PCA said the allegations about the stabbing were untrue. Mr Whitehouse had publicly stood by his officers' actions.

'Regretful death'

The Chairman of Sussex Police Authority, Ken Bodfish, said Mr Whitehouse was "saddened" by the decision to suspend him.

"He has repeatedly said how much he regrets that James Ashley died."

The BBC's Heather McCarthy: "A very sad day for Sussex police"
The authority opted not to proceed against Assistant Chief Constable Maria Wallis, but Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Yeo may still face proceedings when it reconvenes on 31 March.

The officer who pulled the trigger, PC Chris Sherwood, of the Sussex Police Special Operations Unit, was suspended a month after the shooting and another four officers were suspended last May.

The solicitor for Mr Ashley's family, Brian Jackson, said: "The family is relieved that matters are starting to come to a head.

'We feel vindicated'

"They feel vindicated that complaints they have made about the shooting, the planning and the intelligence that resulted in the raid being armed, and the chief constable's press conference are now all subject to proper investigation."

"Sussex Police Authority has never expressed any sympathy to the family as a result of this incident and they have been less than forthcoming in relation to certain other aspects."

Mr Whitehouse's situation is not unprecedented - the Chief Constable of Gwent, Francis Wilkinson, is suspended pending disciplinary charges - although the circumstances are unique.

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