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Last Updated: Monday, 3 December 2007, 15:49 GMT
Shot man's family back law change
Forensic officers at scene of Azelle Rodney shooting
Police have refused to release some details about the case
The family of a man shot dead by police has welcomed a government plan to allow secret evidence at inquests.

Earlier this year a coroner said an inquest into the death of Azelle Rodney was impossible because of evidence from police that could not be seen.

The Ministry of Justice has now agreed to seek a law change, following a complaint from Mr Rodney's family.

Mother Susan Alexander urged the government to table a bill without delay. Mr Rodney was killed in 2005.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "The government is aware of the issues raised by this inquest and it recognises that in a very small number of inquests a change to the law may be required. It is proposing to legislate as soon as is practicable."

Ms Alexander welcomed the decision but urged the government to publish and table the bill without delay.

Azelle Rodney
Azelle has not had justice and without justice there can be no accountability
Susan Alexander

She also asked for all-party support to push the Bill through Parliament so that her inquest's son can take place and she can finally see all the evidence collected by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

She said: "For a long time now I've been very frustrated and upset by not being able to see vital evidence about the police shooting of my son.

"Sometimes I feel so angry about this I just can't speak. Now that the government agrees that this evidence shouldn't be withheld from bereaved families like ours, I hope all concerned can act quickly so the evidence is disclosed with minimum delay.

'Fairness and justice'

"None of Azelle's friends and family can come to terms with his death until everything is out in the open and a full inquest has taken place. Azelle has not had justice and without justice there can be no accountability."

Deborah Coles, co-director of the pressure group Inquest, said: "It is clearly in the interests of fairness and justice for the family that this is acted on urgently so that the inquest date can be set, particularly given public disquiet about fatal shootings by police officers in London."

In August coroner Andrew Walker, sitting at Hornsey in north London, announced he could not proceed with a full inquest into Mr Rodney's death because of a large number of redactions - passages crossed out - in police officers' statements.

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Coroner Andrew Walker
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The redactions were made under the 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which covers information obtained from covert surveillance devices such as telephone tapping or bugs, said the solicitor for Azelle Rodney's family, Daniel Machover.

On 30 April 2005, armed officers stopped a car in Edgware, north London, after having its occupants under surveillance for three hours.

Mr Rodney, who was sitting in the back seat, was shot dead after armed police were ordered to carry out a "hard stop".

Immediately afterwards police said the dead man had been seen holding a firearm but it later emerged this was not true.

The officer who shot him claimed he thought he was reaching for a gun.

The police have admitted it was a "pre-planned" operation but they have refused to release more details.

Mr Machover said there were many unanswered questions, such as why the police did not arrest the trio when they were in the street in Harlesden, rather than waiting for them to get back in the car.

Three guns and ammunition were found in the car.

The driver and front seat passenger, Wesley Lovell, 26, and Frank Graham, 24, were later jailed for seven and six years respectively for firearms offences.

At the pair's trial Samantha Cohen, prosecuting, said: "They were again followed by police and at about 7.40 a decision was made to stop the Volkswagen Golf they were in proceeding any further.

"That operation involved armed officers, and Rodney, who was in the back seat of his car, was shot in the course of that stop. He died."



SEE ALSO
No charges over police shooting
04 Jul 06 |  London
Policeman moved after gun death
01 May 05 |  London
Profile: Andrew Walker
16 Apr 07 |  UK

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