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Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 12:29 GMT
Officers face action over shooting
James Ashley's sister Pauline with a picture of him
James Ashley's family campaigned for a public inquiry
Three officers from Sussex police will face disciplinary charges over the fatal shooting of James Ashley, according to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).

Mr Ashley, who hailed from Liverpool, was shot at his flat in St Leonards, East Sussex, while in bed with his girlfriend at 0400 GMT on 15 January 1998.

The 39-year-old, who was naked and unarmed, was killed by a single shot.

Firearms officers had been briefed that there was a large haul of drugs in the flat and the occupants could be armed and dangerous.

James Ashley
James Ashley was killed by a single shot

No drugs or guns were found at the flat.

Although not named by the PCA, it is understood the three officers are Superintendent Christopher Burton, Detective Chief Inspector Kevin French and Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Siggs who were all cleared of misconduct charges at a trial in Wolverhampton earlier this year.

A statement from Sussex police said: "A superintendent and two detective chief inspectors will face a total of 15 disciplinary charges in respect of the planning of the armed entry that led to Mr Ashley's death.

"The superintendent will face two charges of neglect of duty.


If they are found to be in the wrong then it I suppose it will be something, but it has been too long for us

Eileen Ashley
"One detective chief inspector will face three charges of neglect of duty and six charges of falsehood.

"The second detective chief inspector will face four charges of neglect of duty.

"Sussex Police will arrange the disciplinary hearing."

Mr Ashley's mother Eileen said disciplinary proceedings against the officers were "too little, too late".

She said: "James will be dead four years next month. We have had to wait too long for anything like this.

Public inquiry

"If they are found to be in the wrong then I suppose it will be something, but it has been too long for us. The whole family feels the same way.

"We would again repeat our call for a public inquiry."

Mrs Ashley said the family had started legal action against Sussex Police "for James's children".

The charges result from a 1m investigation by Kent Police into Mr Ashley's death, which accused the Sussex force of "complete corporate failure" over the operation.

Operation condemned

It found intelligence for the raid was wrong as the marksmen had no plans of the building and were given incorrect information about Mr Ashley.

An internal police inquiry found evidence that Sussex Chief Constable Paul Whitehouse misled the press and his police authority over the raid.

Before Mr Whitehouse stepped down he had been fiercely criticised over his decision to go ahead with promotions and pay rises for two of the officers involved in the shooting.

Another seven officers have already faced disciplinary action or "advice" for their roles in the incident.


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