Page last updated at 15:43 GMT, Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Damages deal over Ashley shooting

James Ashley
James Ashley was shot at close range by police in January 1998

Lawyers for the family of a man who was shot dead by police in 1998 while he was naked and unarmed, say they have agreed damages with Sussex Police.

Legal representatives for 39-year-old James Ashley said police had admitted he was killed "as a result of police negligence and therefore unlawfully".

They said there were a series of failures over the death in Hastings.

Sussex Police said the force would pay compensation and apologise but did not accept the death was unlawful killing.

Mr Ashley's son, James, said: "The police killed my dad illegally.

"They have now admitted it and apologised, and at last I know everything that happened.

"They have paid me damages. I can now try and build the life I lost the day they shot my dad when I was just 14."

The death of James Ashley was a tragedy which should never have occurred
Sussex Police

A statement issued by the force said the officer who fired the fatal shot had mistakenly believed his life and that of another officer were in danger.

It said police had admitted negligence and reached a settlement with the family.

"Sussex Police wishes to reiterate that the death of James Ashley was a tragedy which should never have occurred and it was caused by a series of failures at levels of Sussex Police in relation to events prior to the raid and its planning and execution," it added.

"Sussex Police also acknowledges that there were serious shortcomings in the way in which the aftermath of Mr Ashley's death was handled."

The statement said the force had not made any admissions that Mr Ashley was unlawfully killed when he was shot on 15 January, 1998.

Officer acquitted

It said Pc Sherwood, an officer from the Sussex Police Special Operations Unit, had always maintained he acted in self defence and was acquitted of murder and manslaughter in the crown court.

Family solicitor Jane Deighton said: "Jimmy's family sought the truth. They made a formal complaint, issued legal proceedings and started the Justice for Jimmy campaign.

"Not for one day did they let the pressure off.

"Their achievements are a remarkable memorial to Jimmy, and contribution towards holding the police accountable."

And Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman said the strength of the family, in what was a tragic case, ensured Mr Ashley's reputation had been cleared and was a great tribute to them.

Mr Ashley was in bed when officers burst into his home at 0400 GMT.

He was shot in front of his girlfriend after incorrect intelligence suggested he might be armed.

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