constable Chris Sherwood was the officer who shot and killed James
Ashley in January of 1998. Such a tragedy would have been bad enough,
but when the truth of how the police operate in Sussex is revealed the
shocking abuses of authority hit you. The tax payer in Sussex should be
able to rely on any officer of the law to be impartial and honest. We now
find out that this force is anything but. It is thoroughly dishonest and
devious in an orchestrated way, designed to bring about results that are
manipulative and discriminatory.
could hardly be a coincidence that Sussex police adopted similar tactics
when working with Wealden
District Council in 1997 concerning Nelson
Kruschandl, anther person that Sussex
police had on their books as being a problem to be rid of stemming
from a Petition in 1997 where this force
helped Wealden pervert the course of justice by turning a blind eye to
corruption concerning planning officers. It looks from a concocted report
Nuttall and David
Phillips that Derek
Holness was trying to get Inspector Tim Mottram to authorise an armed
raid on premises in Herstmonceux, more of which horror story at the foot
of this page.
ARGUS 1st APRIL 1999
Sussex PC Chris Sherwood was last night charged with the murder of James Ashley.
The 31-year-old force marksman, the first Sussex officer to face such a charge, is also accused of manslaughter.
He has been freed on bail and is due to appear before Bow Street magistrates in London on May 21.
Four other Sussex officers have been charged with "misfeasance" or misconduct in public office, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
They are Supt Chris Burton, 42, Acting Det Chief Insp Kevin French, 46, Det Insp Christopher Paul Siggs, 40, and PC Robert Shoesmith, 37.
They have also been released on bail to appear at Bow Street on May 21.
All five officers charged are suspended from duty pending the outcome of their cases.
Last night PC Sherwood's solicitor, Ben Brandon, said his client emphatically denies the charges and strenuously maintains his innocence.
The Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence for any charges against PC Stephen Crocker, Chief Constable
Paul Whitehouse, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Jordan and assistant chief constables Nigel Yeo and Maria Wallis. She has also has been eliminated from Sussex Police Authority disciplinary inquiries.
Mr Ashley, 39, died after being shot during a police raid on his home in Western Road, St Leonards, on January 15 last year.
Mr Ashley, wanted for alleged drugs offences, was naked and in bed with his girlfriend, Caroline Courtland Smith, when officers arrived.
She said: "I hope now we will be given some answers to explain the horrific events of which Jimmy and I were victims."
There were two investigations into the shooting, one by Kent Police under Deputy Assistant Commissioner Barbara Wilding, concerning the officers at the scene; and one by Hampshire Chief Constable Sir John Hoddinott concerning the involvement of senior officers.
Files on the two investigations were submitted to the CPS in December and the advice of Treasury counsel was sought before yesterday's decisions were announced.
HOUSE OF COMMONS, MONDAY 11th FEBRUARY 2002
Louise Ellman MP (Liverpool, Riverside): The fatal shooting of the sleeping
unarmed James Ashley at around 4:20 am on 15 January 1998, when five of a group of 25
heavily armed police burst into his Hastings flat, demonstrates the failings of Sussex police, the inadequacy of police accountability and a lack of concern for the bereaved.
A single bullet fired at point blank range by Police Constable Chris Sherwood killed James Ashley, aged 39, as he stumbled out of bed dazed by the light of the torch shone by the raiding police. No arms or drugs were found on the premises, contrary to the information on which authorisation for the raid rested.
Jimmy Ashley's family are my constituents. I have witnessed their deep grief at their loss but that grief has been followed by anger and incredulity that no one has been brought to account for the needless death. Indeed, in the four years since, little has been revealed in the
public sphere, little action has been taken, no one has been brought to account for what happened and it looks as if few lessons have been learned.
The Ashleys first heard of Jimmy's killing through a chance television and teletext viewing. Indeed, at one stage a neighbour who had been
listening to the radio approached them. They heard that someone who answered the description of their son had been shot dead by police in an area of Hastings where they knew their son lived. No name was given at that stage but they suspected that something was wrong.
The family made a series of telephone calls to Sussex police, to coroners and to a range of other individuals and
organisations. They were given little information and even less help. They were never officially informed that James Ashley had died and they have never been officially told what happened. It was only after their numerous telephone calls, each striving to access the information that they needed, that they finally established that the dead man was their son and brother.
To make a tragic situation even worse, a few hours after stumbling on the news of Jimmy's death, the family were to hear on television
Chief Constable Paul Whitehouse publicly casting false aspersions on Jimmy's character and insisting that his officers had acted properly.
The family made a referral to the Police Complaints Authority. It was after that complaint was made that the PCA commissioned reports into what had happened. Barbara Wilding, then assistant chief constable of Hampshire police, was asked to produce a report into the chief constable's involvement in what happened. Those reports were produced and delivered to the
PCA, which, following its normal procedures, issued letters accepting the adequacy of the reports. Yet neither report has ever been published and neither report has been exposed to public scrutiny.
The information in the reports has become known only because there were leaks to the press, specifically to
Guardian, which published a detailed article in 2001. I draw on much of the information in the leaked articles for my comments.
It is a matter of importance, for the record, that, to the best of my knowledge, nothing in the reports has been denied. The Wilding report found a complete failure of corporate duty by Sussex police. The Hampshire inquiry concluded that three police officers lied about intelligence in order to persuade Deputy Chief Constable Mark Jordan to authorise the raid. The report found that the raid was
"authorised on intelligence that was not merely exaggerated, it was determinably false ... there was a plan to deceive and the evidence concocted."
That is absolutely damning.
The report also showed that the guidelines on firearms put together by the Association of Chief Police Officers was breached. Experts on firearms and the law told Kent police that even if the intelligence had been correct, the firearms should not have been authorised.
The chief constable was castigated. Sir John Hoddinott concluded that Paul Whitehouse, the then chief constable,
"wilfully failed to tell the truth as he knew it, he did so without reasonable excuse or justification and what he published and said was misleading."
Sir John found evidence against Deputy Chief Constable Mark Jordan. That included criminal misfeasance and neglect of duty, discreditable conduct and aiding and abetting the chief constable's false statements. There was suggested evidence of collusion between some or all of the chief officers and an arguable case of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
These statements were contained in those investigation reports. The reports have been kept secret - apart from the leaks made to the press - and have never been available for public scrutiny. After four years, it is reasonable to ask what action has been taken in the face of such gross abuses.
I note that there are a number of players un the complaints system for the police, which has relevance when we consider that four years have passed. Thos players are the Police Complaints
Authority, the Crown Prosecution
Service, the Sussex police authority and others. In considering the comments that I am make, I ask my right honourable friend the Minister to consider what the role of those key players should have been and where the dereliction of duty lay.
The CPS refused to prosecute senior officers. In May 2001, the presiding judge halted the Old Bailey trial of the police officer who shot
James Ashley dead. At a separate trial in Wolverhampton the same month, the officers who planned the raid were acquitted when the CPS offered no evidence, alleging that the depth of corporate failure was too great to make any individual responsible. Tow of the officers involved were promoted with backdated pay increases - an insult to the memory of James Ashley and an absolute affront to his bereaved family.
Deputy Chief Constable Mark Jordan was suspended on full pay for nearly three years before being retired permanently on ill-health grounds with a full retirement pension at the age of 43. That enabled him to escape disciplinary procedures, yet on 21 March 1998, during the debate on the Home Affairs Committee inquiry into police complaints in the aftermath of anger about the consequences of the Hillsborough tragedy, the House was promised that the police would no longer be able to evade disciplinary action in that way. That promise was given to the House in March 1998, yet four years afterwards apparently nothing has happened.
Indeed, the definitive action has been the resignation of Chief Constable Paul Whitehouse in June 2001. That followed an intervention by my right honourable Friend the Home Secretary. I praise the Home Secretary for his resolute action. His was the first clear action from the Home Office that led the police having to face up to the consequences if what they had done. In the days that followed the Home Secretary's statement, Paul Whitehouse started to criticise the Home Secretary and queried the legitimacy of his statement, but the result was obtained, and
Paul Whitehouse, the chief constable at the time of the shooting, resigned.
During the past two months disciplinary charges have been filed against three police officers. I presume that the hearings that relate to the disciplinary charges will be internal, not a matter for public scrutiny.
What should happen now? In is self evident that the criminal justice system has failed the
Ashleys. I call for the immediate publication of the Hoddinott and Wilding reports and for a full
public inquiry into the events that led up to the shooting of James Ashley and in its aftermath, including the handling of the complaints.
Today, by a great coincidence, I have seen a report submitted by Sussex police authority that says that the police inspectorate has carried out an investigation, that 26 recommendations about changes in the way that Sussex police operate have been made and that many of them have been implemented. However, having read that report, I stil find it impossible to ascertain whether all those recommendations have been implemented. Indeed, none of them refer to the need for public scrutiny of what happened on the early morning when James Ashley was shot dead. Nothing in the report tells us how we should overhaul the police complaints system.
In a letter to me dated 27 June 2001, Si Alistair Graham, the chairman of the Complaints Authority, stated:
"it is not possible to let you have a copy of Barbara Wilding's and John Hoddinott's reports as section 80 of the Police Act 1996 specifically debars us from doing this except in special circumstances."
After four years of non-action, I plead those special circumstances. I specifically reject the explanation passed to be my right
honourable Friend the Minister of 8 January 2002 when I was informed that the reports could not be made public because the Sussex police authority would not agree to it. It cannot be acceptable for a police authority that is in the dock itself to veto action of such great public importance. I do not intend to shoot the messenger, but I castigate the ruling of the police authority.
GUARDIAN 2001 - MAY 23 2001 - Armed and dangerous: the police with their fingers on the trigger
The events that led to the shooting of an unarmed man - and fears that the tragedy could be repeated.
If a man with two guns and 60 rounds of ammunition barges his way into a bedroom in the middle of the night, confronts the naked and defenceless occupant and then shoots him dead, he has surely committed a criminal offence - a murder which must land the gunman in prison for life. However, the uncomfortable reality is that if the man with the gun is a police officer, it is not that simple.
Sussex PC Chris Sherwood is the latest in a lengthening line of "authorised firearms officers" who have shot unarmed civilians and emerged without any criminal sanction. In the last 10 years, police officers in England and Wales have shot no less than 41 people who turned out not to be carrying a firearm. At least 15 of the victims died. And not one of the police officers who fired those shots has been convicted of any criminal offence. The vast majority were not even prosecuted.
The victims include Harry Stanley, 46, shot dead on his way home from the pub after police mistook the table leg he was carrying for a gun; Diarmuid O'Neill, 27, the IRA man shot dead in Hammersmith in 1996, unarmed and naked apart from his underpants; and David Ewin, 38, shot dead while trying to batter his way out of a parking place in a stolen car. Police officers in England and Wales now shoot people once every seven or eight weeks.
This might look like a disturbing sequence of corrupt decisions, effectively a licence for police officers to kill. In reality, it indicates something very different but equally disturbing, not just for potential victims but also for the police officers who may fire at them: police use of firearms is inherently dangerous. The more police are armed, the more they will shoot the wrong people. And the law which surrounds this is inadequate and incapable of fixing the blame when things go wrong.
PC Sherwood's case is classic. The bullet with which he killed Jimmy Ashley in the bedroom of his flat in Hastings, East Sussex, in January 1998 turns out to be merely the final shot in a volley of error unleashed by just about every rank in Sussex police. The shooting was investigated by two outside forces - Kent and Hampshire - and the Guardian has seen secret reports from both inquiries.
They found evidence that in the planning or later handling of the incident, crime was committed by the chief constable, his deputy, one of the assistant chief constables, a superintendent, a chief inspector, an inspector and three constables. The evidence was considered strong enough to prosecute only in the case of four of the junior officers. Together, the two inquiries painted a picture of casual disregard for the rules which ring-fence the police use of firearms, a picture in which complacency and confusion conspired to jeopardise the lives of members of the public and of junior police officers alike.
It all began on the evening of Wednesday, January 7 1998, when a man called Paul Smith was drinking in Cherries bar on the Hastings seafront. A Scotsman accused him (wrongly) of being a grass. Smith left rapidly. The Scotsman followed him, pulled a knife and stabbed him three or four times in the groin. When the police came, they were given two leads: the Scotsman was known as 'Tosh'; and he had been pulled off his victim by a friend who had then walked away with him. The friend was a Scouser called Jimmy Ashley.
The Hastings police knew quite a bit about Ashley, then 39. Over the previous 12 months, an informant had told them he and a few mates from Liverpool were taking over the supply of heroin in the town and using violence to muscle in on other dealers. There were rumours but no hard evidence that they had a gun. In October, Hastings police had set up a covert observation point on a house in Western Road where Ashley and two others had moved into three flats. The observation point had recorded suspicious comings and goings, but it had been closed down without result. Now, in search of Tosh, on the morning of Thursday, January 8, Hastings police reopened the OP. Within a week, Jimmy Ashley was dead. By that time, the search for Tosh had wandered far and wide from the rule book as Sussex police officers took to the streets with guns, sometimes with authorisation that should not have been granted, and sometimes without any legal authority at all.
These armed operations were run by an incident commander, Detective Chief Inspector Kevin French, who had never been trained for the job, on the basis of an intelligence operation run by an intelligence commander, Detective Inspector Chris Siggs, who had not been trained for his job either. Its tactics for the use of guns were provided by a specialist advisor, PC Steve Crocker, who endorsed an extravagant plan to send 25 armed officers into the flats in Western Road using a rapid intervention tactic known as Bermuda - even though PC Crocker and his assault coordinator, Sgt Andy Park, had been warned by the head of the police national firearms school in West Mercia that Bermuda was too dangerous to be used in such circumstances. The tactic called for a lone officer to walk into each room in a building, to scan it - thus presenting himself as an easy target to an armed occupant - before calling in backup if needed.
When Sussex adopted the tactic in 1992, an internal memo warned that "risk factors are high and, as such, it should only be considered as a last resort". However, a tactic that could conceivably be justified to save a hostage from imminent execution became an approved method of simply arresting suspects. Sussex claimed to have learned this from the RUC in Belfast. The RUC denied it.
This tactic was then made even riskier by the Hastings officers' failure to get hold of internal plans of the house: there were five flats with six occupants, only four of whom were targets, but the officers had little or no idea who was in which flat.
Superintendent Colin Burrows of the RUC, an official adviser to the chief constables on firearms policy, who reviewed the Hastings operation, said he would never send in armed officers to raid a building occupied by armed suspects unless they had trained as a team "for fast-track decision making in the face of life-threatening danger". These officers had never practised rapid intervention as a team. Indeed, most of them had not trained in rapid intervention even as individuals.
And this was only the thin end of the wedge of error which took Ashley's life. It is clear now that the raid should never have been launched. The whole misbegotten incident happened only because of two alarming failures, first of intelligence, and then of command.
In the seven days that followed the stabbing at Cherries bar, Hastings officers had received a drip-feed of intelligence. They had identified Tosh as Thomas McCrudden and linked him to three different addresses as well as a car found parked in the town centre. Although they had dispatched armed officers in pursuit of all these leads, they had come away empty-handed. So, on January 14 1998, at about 5pm, they decided to go for the big one.
They asked their deputy chief constable, Mark Jordan, to allow them to send 25 armed officers into the Western Road flats. They said they had three objectives: to retrieve a kilo of cocaine which had just been delivered to Ashley; to seize a firearm kept there; to arrest Tosh McCrudden. They were wrong on all three.
Inside the flats, there was no cocaine, no firearm and no Tosh. Worse than that, the Kent inquiry concluded, three Hastings officers - detectives Burton, French and Siggs - knew this and lied about their intelligence in order to persuade their deputy chief constable to authorise the raid. Specifically, Kent found they told the deputy that earlier that afternoon a detective from the regional crime squad had warned them that a car carrying drugs was on its way to Western Road, and that they had seen Ashley and his friends taking three boxes into the flat "in a suspicious way".
In truth, however, the RCS detective had said nothing of the kind; he had simply asked Hastings police to look out for two suspect cars at two addresses, neither of which was Western Road. And the three boxes had been taken into the flats before either of these cars could possibly have arrived there.
The Hastings officers also told the deputy chief constable that Ashley had a gun in the flat, even though there was nothing but rumour to support the claim; and that there was "a strong possibility" that McCrudden was there, which was an exaggeration of a tentative report of an unidentified man entering the building.
With yesterday's collapse of the crown case in Wolverhampton, the three Sussex officers who were accused of this dishonesty have been given no chance to put their side of the story. They have always denied dishonesty. Sussex police sources say that if the trial of the three officers had gone ahead, they would have shown that Kent police ignored an informant report which suggested that Ashley and his friends were regularly receiving a consignment of cocaine on Wednesday evenings; and that they were simply doing their best to interpret all the intelligence they had received. Kent hotly deny ignoring any lead. However, while there is dispute about whether the officers were honest in their intellligence report, there is no dispute that they were wrong.
This manipulation or misreading of intelligence could not have produced such lethal results if there had not also been a catastrophic failure of command. Mark Jordan now faces disciplinary charges of neglect first, because he failed to ask the questions which would have exposed the flaws in this intelligence, but second, and most important, because experts on firearms and the law told Kent that, even if all the intelligence from the Hastings officers had been correct, Mr Jordan should not have authorised the use of firearms.
Two days earlier, the Hastings officers had obtained a search warrant for the flats. It was technically defective because it failed to specify which of the flats was to be searched, and it was wrongly granted because it was obtained under the Misuse of Drugs Act when there was no evidence that there were drugs in the flat. Most important, experts said Sussex police had no need to use armed officers at any stage.
Two experts on police firearms reviewed the final armed raid for the Kent inquiry. Superintendent Alan Bailey of the national firearms school said there was no need for firearms officers to arrest McCrudden, who had never been known to use a gun; if they really believed there was a gun, that was a good reason not to go in there but to make the arrest on the street; and, even if they believed there was a kilo of cocaine in there, that did not justify the dangers of using firearms.
Supt Burrows, who drafted the firearms guidelines for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said bluntly: "The strategic objectives in this case do not meet the requirements of the Acpo guidelines."
It turns out that the seven days after the stabbing at Cherries were littered with similarly slack leadership. Officers had earlier been given a 48-hour authority to use guns to arrest McCrudden in the street; and a further 24-hour authority to arrest him with guns near the car he was thought to have been using. Both authorities were granted by assistant chief constables on the basis that McCrudden was "possibly armed with a firearm"; he was not, and there was simply no evidence to suggest that he would be. More serious, it is now clear that on several occasions that week, heavily armed Sussex officers were sent out into the streets of Hastings with no legal authority at all.
In one case, on the morning of January 14, half a dozen armed officers set up an ambush at the post office on London Road in daylight as customers came and went, unaware of the danger. The officers were waiting for McCrudden to collect his giro. The officers were called away to another job before a friend of McCrudden's turned up to collect the giro.
So it was that under the supervision of inadequately trained commanders, 25 inadequately trained officers were instructed to use a notoriously dangerous tactic to storm a building for which they had no internal plans in order to execute an operation which was built on false intelligence and launched without proper support from the law or the guidelines. And, as the operation unfolded, things got worse. It was shortly before 1am on January 15 when the 25 officers from the special operations unit filed through the armoury at Sussex police HQ in Lewes. They wore night clothing with body armour. Each was issued was a pistol, a sub-machine gun and 60 rounds of ammunition. They were about to take part in the biggest armed operation in the history of Sussex police.
At 1.10am, they gathered to be briefed. Inspector Jim Taylor, head of the unit, showed them pictures of McCrudden, Ashley, and two of Ashley's friends and passed on what he had been told about them: that McCrudden was in the flats (incorrect) and that he had a history of violence with knives (correct); that there was a gun in the flats (incorrect); that Ashley was wanted in Eastbourne for shooting a man in the stomach (incorrect); that he had been convicted of attempted murder (incorrect, although he had served two years for manslaughter).
One of the least experienced of those listening was PC Chris Sherwood, then aged 30. Although he had been an authorised firearms officer for nearly five years, he had never fired a shot in an operation, and he was one of those who had never been trained in rapid intervention. The briefing ended, the teams set off by road to Hastings, where they were told that the lights were out in Western Road. If all went well, they might yet take their suspects by surprise. But it did not go well.
By 4.10am, Chris Sherwood was standing in a long line of armed men in an alley beside the house in Western Road, trying to look inconspicuous despite the security lamp which bathed them in light every time its sensor detected one of them moving. Two officers had gone ahead with a front door key; now they reported bad news. The two top flats, including the one in which Ashley was thought to be living, had a communal door. It would take twice as long to break down that door as well as the doors to the flats inside. At about 4.15, 10 men, including Sherwood, were called up to the top landing. It was too small for such a crowd, and the officers spilled down the stairs, where more armed officers were gathered. Sherwood was at the back of his group. One of the two officers who had come in ahead of them was trying to twist his way down past them; his rig dragged over the iron railing, and they all flinched at the noise.
On the top landing, PC Evans moved towards the communal door with his battering ram. PC Roskilly stepped back to let him through, knocked over an ironing board with an appalling clatter, a dog began to bark. PC Roskilly radioed for permission to start, the assault coordinator called "Strike", and PC Evans attacked the communal door.
At the back of the line, Chris Sherwood was nervous. In the bedroom of his flat, Ashley was still asleep, but his girlfriend, Caroline Courtland-Smith, then 19, was wide awake, alarmed by the cacophony of shouting and crashing. She shook Ashley awake. By this time, the first five officers were through the communal door, turning right; the second five-man team was lost on the landing unable to find the door to Ashley's flat because the communal door had swung back to conceal it.
Ashley stumbled naked out of bed. The first man from Sherwood's team had opened the door and stepped back; the other four were in Ashley's hallway, each man taking a door.
The last man got the last room: Chris Sherwood was now right at the front of the queue, separated from Ashley by two inches of unlocked door. Ashley was walking round the foot of the bed, heading for the same door. The room was dark. Chris Sherwood raised his Heckler and Koch to his left shoulder, turned on the torch on top of the barrel and pushed open the door. What happened next took between one and three seconds.
Sherwood took one step forward, scanned the darkness with his torch, caught sight of the face and upper torso of a man, recognised the face from the briefing photo: the attempted murder man, the "shoots people in the stomach" man, armed and dangerous. The man was moving fast towards him. "In that instant," Sherwood said, "I thought I was going to be shot and killed. I thought a gun was being levelled at me, ready to be fired. I reacted instinctively to the threat, fearing for my life. I pulled the trigger and fired."
Ashley was less than two foot away when the bullet pierced his chest, ricocheted down off his collar bone and flew through his heart. He coughed a spray of blood on Sherwood, crumpled, coughed a little more blood and fell to the floor. Caroline was screaming. Someone turned on the light. It was then that Sherwood discovered the armed and dangerous man was unarmed and naked. And dead. When the particular detail of this raid is set aside, what happened here is essentially identical to what happens in most police shootings: there is a moment of confrontation between an armed officer and a target, which is also a confrontation between perception and reality. If the officer perceives a threat, he will shoot. If he is wrong, an innocent person gets shot. Or he may guess the other way. In which case, if he is wrong, he gets shot.
In the 41 cases where targets of police shooting had no firearm, 14 of them were carrying replica guns. No police officer in the heat of confrontation can tell the difference. The same logic applies to the 14 other cases where targets were carrying other weapons - air pistol, gas gun, knife, hatchet. How real is the threat? You have between one and three seconds to decide. Get it wrong, and the wrong person dies.
Of the remaining 13 cases, six were accidental discharges (five of those shot being police officers), and the remaining seven are the most disturbing of all, where the target had no weapon at all, just like Jimmy Ashley. And yet in each case the officer perceived them as a threat and was, therefore, just like Chris Sherwood deemed to be firing in self-defence.
The truth about armed police which the politicians have never understood is that if we give guns to our police officers, they will use them; and if they use them, then from time to time, as a matter of certainty, they will shoot the wrong people.
That night in Hastings, Sherwood spent a minute or two with his hand clamped over the hole in Ashley's chest, hopelessly trying to turn back time. He was led away in shock. Caroline Courtland-Smith was taken away to the police station where she sat with her mother and tried to describe what had happened. The armed officers arrested three men in two of the other flats, soon found out that none of them was McCrudden, and released them without charge. (McCrudden was eventually arrested elsewhere and got five and a half years for the Cherries stabbing.)
There are two conclusions from all this. The first is that our officers are armed too often. Sussex insists it has been traduced. It says just about every force in the country uses a tactic like Bermuda, and adds defiantly that Sussex will continue to use it. It denies using firearms without proper authority. It says its training is no worse than that of other forces.
The reasonable conclusion is that there is no reason to suppose that other forces would emerge any better if they were subjected to the same scrutiny. But there is no effective scrutiny of the police use of firearms. When we tried to find out how many people had been shot by police, the national criminal intelligence service and the Acpo said they had no idea; the PCA said it had some files but nobody had collated the information; and the Home Office said it knew the answer and then supplied us with grossly inaccurate figures.
The official figures show the number of occasions on which police officers have been deployed with guns has just about trebled in the last decade, from 3,722 in 1991 to 10,928 in 1998-99. This figure understates the truth, because it excludesofficers who now carry guns routinely, including not only VIP bodyguards but also the anti terrorist branch, the flying squad and fleets of armed response vehicles. Yet the figures on the number of standing authority guns are kept secret so as not to 'compromise police effectiveness'
British politicians offer two defences: the police have had to match the firepower of criminals - The reality is that British police have armed themselves in advance of their criminal opponents. And they say, that even if there are more officers with guns, it is still rare for them to shoot them. The problem, however, lies in the 41 targets who turn out to have no firearms, and with the finding of Supt Burrows who studied a sequence of firearms incidents and discovered 56% of shots fired by police missed their target.
Senior officers who followed the Hastings case believe we are at a crossroads. They argue that we can make two fundamental reforms to reduce the number of wrong shootings. First, we can cut right back on the number of deployments and insist police carry firearms only where there is a direct threat to life. Second, we need to explore the potential of non-lethal means of disabling dangerous opponents, such as stun guns or pepper sprays.
The second conclusion is that if a system is failing, it is dishonest to fasten the blame on one junior individual. Sherwood's acquittal reflects that. Yet there is a naked and unarmed man in the background here. Who is to blame for that? In so far as it continues to pretend that the responsibility rests with the officer who pulled the trigger, the justice system is incapable of pinning the blame where it belongs. On this occasion, the crown prosecution service did try to punish three middle-ranking officers for "misfeasance", an archaic common law charge which collapsed before their trial. And that is the end of that. The rate at which officers are armed, the law which controls them, the systems which are supposed to supervise them are all left untouched. Ashley is dead. Forty others are needlessly dead or wounded. Yet for all official purposes, there is nothing wrong.
By Nick Davies with additional research by Max Houghton
MALFEASANCE IN SUSSEX
well known dissident, Nelson
Kruschandl is just one of a number of local Sussex
residents who are victims of Wealden's various vendettas
that amount to institutionalised
frequency of the events alleged is suggestive of an ingrained agenda that
operates to keep planning consents out of the reach of certain
to the benefit of other better connected concerns. The chief executive of
this council, Charles
Lant is believed to be implicated by virtue of not acting to prevent
crime in his council. The leader of the council, Bob Standley is alleged
to have been put on notice as the some of these matters, but is seems is
also sitting on his hands. The operations of this
council are alleged to amount to a course of malicious
conduct or even fraud,
as defined by the Fraud
more worrying is whether or not the Sussex Police is party to these
allegations of serious crimes and what party her Chief
Constable, Giles York plays in all of
this. It would be a feather in any police
officer's career if he or she uncovered corrupt practices at a higher
level and was brave enough to expose those cover-ups. It is a criminal
offence to know of a crime and not report or investigate it.
is alleged that Sussex police are complicit in the agenda of Wealden
District Council to rubbish their dirtiest darkest secret by framing
the occupier of the historic building that George
White and Thomas
Hoy lied about on oath before Inspector
Raymond Dannruether in 1986-1987.
is alleged that as a result of deceiving Mr Dannreuther that they obtained
a fraudulent instrument with which to torment Nelson Kruschandl with
preventing him from developing his talents as a creative engineer and
destroying a marriage and a second long term common law relationship,
driving him into a relationship with an unstable psychiatric nurse who was
also a single mother.
is alleged that as Mr Kruschandl became more successful in planning appeals
and in defeating enforcement actions against the protagonist council, that
they sought a way to bury him - and that they did this by grooming the
feelings of the daughter of the psychiatric nurse after an engagement was
called off, leading to an acrimonious split where the young girl was
emotional putty in the hands of social services who coached her,
fabricating a story for her that relied on there being no evidence to contradict
is alleged that the Sussex police conspired with the CPS
and a trial Judge, Cedric Joseph,
to gain a conviction against a charge of multiple rapes, where their
witness was still intact and a virgin
when inspected by Melanie
Liebenberg, a witness who also aided
and abetted the gaining of this conviction by misinforming the jury as
to marks that are naturally occurring, suggesting that they must be from
foul play when she must have known otherwise.
is alleged that Gordon Staker and James
Hookway deliberately failed to secure the so-called crime scene,
avoiding collecting any evidence that was inconsistent with the allegation
they had been tasked to prove. That is doing so they knew that the
defendant would be unable to mount any kind of defence where the police
controlled the crime scene.
is further alleged that the police investigators had
full knowledge that the defendant was Legally
Aided and did not have the resources to challenge the might of the
state where the Sexual
Offences Act 2003, introduced by David
Blunkett, reverses the burden of proof contrary to Articles
10 and 11
of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.
an officer of the courts omits to include evidence that he knows is
relevant to a hearing, that is termed misfeasance in public office.
Where an officer then tries to cover up his or her misfeasance (as did
Ian Kay in the Stream Farm matter), that becomes malfeasance. The
difference is that misfeasance is a civil wrong, whereas malfeasance is
a criminal offence. The leading case
precedent on malfeasance is: R. v Bowden
1995 Court of Appeal (98 1 WLR).
Vicarage Lane, Hailsham,
East Sussex, BN27 2AX T: 01323 443322
LINKS & REFERENCE
Whitehouse (1993-2001) Ken
Jones (2001-2006) Joe
Edwards (2006-2007) Martin
Richards (2008-2014) Giles York (2014