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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 October, 2003, 21:15 GMT
Police chief's apology over killing
Pauline Ashley, with a picture of her brother James, who was killed by police
James Ashley's family have campaigned for a face-to-face apology
The family of an unarmed man who was shot dead by police during a bungled drugs raid is to get an apology from Sussex Police.

The chief constable of the force, Ken Jones, is due to visit victim James Ashley's family on Merseyside this week - more than five years after the killing.

Mr Ashley was in bed and unarmed when officers burst into his flat in Sussex in January 1998 and shot him at point blank range.

An investigation revealed police guidelines had not been followed during the raid, and former chief constable Paul Whitehouse was later forced to resign over the inquiry.

Mr Ashley, 39, was shot - in front of his girlfriend - at the flat in St Leonards after incorrect intelligence reports suggested he might be armed.

There have been calls for a public inquiry into the incident, although this has not taken place.

'Long time coming'

In a statement Sussex police confirmed a private meeting would take place between Chief Constable Jones and Mr Ashley's parents and family.

"Mr Jones is to apologise to the family and parents for Mr Ashley's death," it said.

Mark Dunn, chairman of the Sussex Police Authority, will also attend.

Mr Ashley's brother, Tony, from Liverpool, said on Sunday: "They [Sussex police] have done wrong. It is for them to apologise.

"We have been asking for an apology virtually from day one," he said. "It has been a long time coming."

The meeting will take place on Thursday at what Tony Ashley described as a "neutral" venue in Liverpool.

Officers cleared

A report by the Police Complaints Authority earlier this year recommended more non-lethal weapons like stun guns and water cannons should be used by officers.

Mr Whitehouse resigned in June 2001, following the acquittal of the police marksman who shot Mr Ashley, Chris Sherwood. He had told the Old Bailey that he acted in self-defence.

The judge, Mrs Justice Rafferty, agreeing there was no evidence to suggest he had not acted in self-defence, directed the court to clear Mr Sherwood.

Four other officers were also cleared of misconduct and neglect of duty, after the prosecution offered no evidence in two separate trials.

Mr Ashley's family began writing to the Sussex force demanding an apology as far back as 1998.

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