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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 November, 2004, 10:48 GMT
Gun police 'must stay suspended'
Harry Stanley
Mr Stanley was shot dead in Hackney in 1999
The widow of a man shot dead by two firearms officers says they should stay suspended and face criminal charges.

Insp Neil Sharman and Pc Kevin Fagan were suspended on Friday over the 1999 shooting of Harry Stanley after an inquest ruled he was killed unlawfully.

Met chief Sir John Stevens has now agreed to review the suspensions after scores of London's firearms officers refused to carry guns in protest.

But Irene Stanley said: "They should have been suspended from the start."

Second inquest

Mr Stanley was shot dead in Hackney, east London, while carrying a table leg wrapped in a plastic bag that officers thought was a shotgun.

Insp Sharman and Pc Fagan were suspended after the second inquest into his death - the Stanley family had challenged the open verdict returned by the first inquest in 2002.

Irene Stanley
The [protesting firearms] officers weren't at the scene when this happened to my husband so they don't know what happened
Irene Stanley

Mrs Stanley was also upset by comments made by newly-appointed Met commissioner Sir Ian Blair in the Sun newspaper calling for a change in the law to protect firearms officers from the prospect of serious criminal charges.

"I think they should remain suspended," Mrs Stanley told BBC News.

"My husband was a member of the public and he was killed by the police."

"The [protesting firearms] officers weren't at the scene when this happened to my husband so they don't know what happened."

'Agonising decision'

Her solicitor Daniel Machover said the suspensions should remain in place because the inquest's jury had disbelieved a "very vivid" account from the two officers that "they felt under imminent threat of someone firing a gun at them".

"This jury's verdict needs to be fully respected. They agonised, having heard all the evidence - not members of the public, not the officers that have taken this action - the jury heard the evidence," he told BBC News.

Officers are told they should only use firearms... when they have lawful self-defence and if we take that requirement away we're opening the door for a military dictatorship
Daniel Machover

Sir Ian's calls for legal protection for firearms officers were "very, very worrying" and "totally out of line with the legal process", he added.

"Officers are told they should only use firearms - or lethal force - when they have lawful self-defence and if we take that requirement away we're opening the door for a military dictatorship.

"In a democracy you give guns to police officers and you expect them to abide by the rule of law."

"I just think it's wrong what he [Sir Ian] said," Mrs Stanley added.

"It is a pressured job but these officers have been in the job a long time so they should know what to do. If they make a mistake it's someone's life."

She would continue to lobby both the police, to maintain the suspension, and the Crown Prosecution Service to make a decision on criminal proceedings, she added.

The CPS, which had previously ruled out bringing charges, has said it will review the case.


SEE ALSO:
Met police call off gun protest
03 Nov 04  |  London


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