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The BBC's Stephen Cape
"The family said they would continue their fight for justice"
 real 56k

James Ashley's brother, Tony
"Who carries the can?... A man is dead"
 real 28k

Mr Ashley's family solicitor, BrianJackson
"Now there is no mechanism whereby anybody will be convicted"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
Dead man's family to sue police
James Ashley's sister Pauline with a picture of her dead brother
James Ashley's sister Pauline arriving at court
The family of an unarmed man shot dead by police intend to sue the force after three senior officers were cleared of any wrongdoing over his death.

James Ashley, 39, died during a police raid at his home in St Leonards, East Sussex, at 0400GMT on 15 January, 1998.

Supt Christopher Burton, Acting Det Chief Insp Kevin French and Det Insp Christopher Siggs were cleared at Wolverhampton Crown Court after the judge ordered that not guilty verdicts be entered.

But the Crown Prosecution Service accused Sussex police of having a "culture of corporate failure."


The family of James Ashley hoped those responsible for his death would be successfully prosecuted.

Brian Jackson
Solicitor for James Ashley's children
The three officers were accused of having given false intelligence, over-estimating the threat posed by Mr Ashley and over-estimating the amount of drugs in the property.

Mr Ashley's two children said they would launch a civil action against Sussex Police alleging negligence.

The children, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said they would seek compensation for the loss of their father.

Their lawyer Brian Jackson said: "The family of James Ashley hoped those responsible for his death would be successfully prosecuted.

"Their hopes and faith in justice have been cruelly dashed."

Police marksman PC Chris Sherwood, who shot Mr Ashley, was cleared of unlawful killing last month after he said he had fired in self-defence.

Supt Christopher Burton
Cleared: Supt Christopher Burton
Mr Ashley, who had a conviction for manslaughter, was in bed, naked and unarmed, with his girlfriend when armed police burst into his flat.

The court heard that officers were using the "Bermuda technique" - whereby they storm a property trying to create as much confusion as possible.

The raid was part of an investigation into an attempted murder and alleged drugs trafficking.

In a damning prosecution statement Sussex police were accused of having a "culture of corporate failure".

Acting Det Chief Insp Kevin French
Cleared: Acting Det Chief Insp Kevin French
The court was told the intelligence officer on the raid had only been in the job for a month - two weeks of which he had been on annual leave.

And the scenes officer had no experience of being on such an operation before.

Nigel Sweeney QC, prosecuting, said the decision to offer no evidence had been taken because there was no longer a realistic prospect of securing convictions in the case.

Det Insp Christopher Siggs
Cleared: Det Insp Christopher Siggs
Speaking after the hearing, Paul Whitehouse, Chief Constable of Sussex Police, described the fatal shooting as a tragic accident.

But he said he was pleased his officers had been cleared of any wrongdoing.

"What we have to recognise is that police officers need to carry firearms from time to time.

"Sometimes those firearms will be used and there will be very regrettable consequences.

"This was a very regrettable consequence and I am very sorry that James Ashley died.

"But if it is necessary for police officer's to carry firearms they will occasionally use them and we must recognise that fact and not pretend that firearms are there just for show."

For viewers in the south of England, BBC South's regional news programme South Today will tell the full story of the shooting of Jimmy Ashley on BBC1 at 2240BST on Tuesday, 22 May.

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