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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 October, 2004, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
Bennett police anonymity appeal
Derek Bennett
An inquest into Derek Bennett's death is due to be held next month
The family of a man shot dead by police have appealed against a judge's decision to grant anonymity to two officers at an inquest into his death.

Derek Bennett, 29, was shot in July 2001 after officers thought his gun-shaped cigarette lighter was a handgun.

At the Court of Appeal on Wednesday his relatives' lawyers argued assessments of the risks faced by the officers, if named in court, had been exaggerated.

The inquest, due to be held next month, is expected to last four to six weeks.

In January, the coroner refused an application by Officer A, who allegedly fired the fatal shots, and Officer B to have their identities kept secret at the hearing.

This decision was overturned in June by High Court judge Mr Justice Mitting, who said an anonymity order was necessary to protect the officers.

Need for 'transparency'

The judge had heard that the officers had reason to fear for their lives, and their families were "petrified" at the prospect that their names would be revealed in press reports.

Stephen Kamlish QC, for the family, maintained that the officers' fears of retribution were unfounded.

Mr Kamlish said the police risk assessment was based on a local community leader who initially warned he might take the law into his own hands.

He had also said that others with "fire power" would be willing to follow his lead and kill a police officer in retribution.

The three Appeal Court judges were told he had later apologised and said this was not what he wanted.

Mr Kamlish added that no other specific person had been identified as a possible threat to the officers.

Mr Bennett's family claim there is a need for "transparency" at the inquest to avoid any disquiet over the verdict.

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