Page last updated at 14:35 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 15:35 UK

Review of police lawyer shooting

Mark Saunders
Mark Saunders was shot at least five times by police marksmen

Allowing firearms officers to confer after the shooting of barrister Mark Saunders raised the possibility of collusion, the High Court has heard.

Mr Saunders, 32, was shot after a siege in May during which he fired at police from his house in Chelsea, west London.

His family wants the judicial review to rule the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation broke human rights laws.

The family also claims the IPCC failed to give sufficient information to them.

Tim Owen QC, representing Mr Saunders' sister Charlotte, told the court the issue was "whether the hitherto practice of permitting police officers to confer before and during the recording of their accounts" of the incident was compatible with human rights laws.

Unlawful failure

He said: "The officers were not separated before their accounts were given and there was a delay in providing initial statements."

He said the IPCC had provided further opportunity to confer by organising meetings attended by groups of officers to put the questions to them.

Miss Saunders and her family are also seeking a declaration from Mr Justice Underhill that there has been an unlawful failure to disclose sufficient information about the investigation.

The IPCC practice of allowing officers to confer was agreed with the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) and is contained in the Acpo Manual of Guidance on the Police Use of Firearms.

Charlotte Saunders arrives at the High Court
I have to question whether it was necessary to kill my brother
Charlotte Saunders

Mr Owen said the IPCC will argue at the hearing that until Acpo gives a direction to change the practice, it can do nothing.

But he added: "The IPCC is invested with sufficient powers to make a direction to the police authority to reverse the current practice to achieve a different approach which is capable of being compatible."

Mr Saunders, 32, died of multiple bullet wounds. A preliminary inquest heard he was shot in the head, the heart and the liver.

As the siege unfolded, Mr Saunders threw a message to his wife, Elizabeth, from a window, suggesting a row between the couple may have sparked the incident.

Mr Owen said: "It appears that the final fatal shots were fired over 20 minutes after Mr Saunders last fired a shot and at a time when neighbours had all been evacuated or otherwise safely 'contained'."

He added that IPCC evidence showed that seven officers fired 11 rounds at 2129 BST.

He said he found it "difficult" to see "who the police may have believed was being put at risk by Mr Saunders' actions at the time when he was shot."

CCTV footage

Earlier, Ms Saunders also raised this issue speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I have to question whether it was necessary to kill my brother," she said.

"Immediately after his first shot the police were called and the area evacuated, so there was no risk to the public. He was on his own, he had no hostage and made no demands.

"We have had very little information from the IPCC. What information we have got is from the press, so we know as much as anyone else."

Mr Owen said the CCTV footage of the incident taken from a police helicopter was the main source of information for the family.

The IPCC has itself called on three separate occasions for the practice of allowing officers to confer to be ended.

Timeline: Chelsea shooting
08 May 08 |  London
Gunman shot dead in armed siege
06 May 08 |  London

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