Greater Manchester Police chief faces shooting charges

Anthony Grainger Anthony Grainger was shot in the chest in a car park by a police officer

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The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Sir Peter Fahy, is to be prosecuted after an unarmed man was shot dead by an officer.

Anthony Grainger, 36, was shot in the chest after the car he was in was stopped in Culcheth, Cheshire, in 2012.

The Crown Prosecution Service believes there is "sufficient evidence" to prove the force broke health and safety laws.

But a solicitor for Mr Grainger's family said they were disappointed the police marksman was not being charged.

'Serious deficiencies'

Prosecutors have decided the marksman who killed Mr Grainger on 3 March 2012 should not face charges for murder, manslaughter or misconduct in public office because a jury would be likely to accept he believed his actions were necessary.

Analysis

For a successful prosecution to be brought against the police officer who fired the fatal shot, the jury would have to be convinced he didn't honestly believe Anthony Grainger posed a threat and didn't act reasonably in the circumstances.

In any criminal case, that's a high bar to cross; in this case, the CPS decided there was no prospect of crossing it.

Prosecutors came to a similar conclusion when ruling out charges against the police marksmen who shot Jean Charles de Menezes seven times in the head, having mistaken him for a suicide bomber.

Like the Grainger case, police were prosecuted under health and safety laws for failings which put the suspect at risk.

The Met was fined £175,000 plus costs after the jury heard about a string of errors that ultimately led to the 27-year-old Brazilian's death.

The GMP operation in which Mr Grainger was shot involved armed officers stopping an Audi in a car park. The vehicle was stolen and had false registration plates.

A bullet fired by an officer passed through the windscreen and hit Mr Grainger, who was from Bolton.

It later emerged the unarmed father of two had been wrongly suspected of stealing a memory stick containing the names of police informants.

A CPS spokesman said: "It is alleged that there were serious deficiencies in the preparation for this operation that unnecessarily exposed individuals to risk."

Jonathan Bridge, of Farleys Solicitors, who is representing Mr Grainger's family, told BBC Radio 4's World at One that his clients were "bitterly disappointed" with the decision.

He said: "They have had to wait two years for this decision to be reached, they were very hopeful that charges would be brought against the officer that shot Anthony.

"There has never been a murder charge brought against a serving officer, but it was felt in this case that the charge would be justified."

Unlimited fine

Sir Peter is accused of failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act as he is "corporation sole" for the force, the CPS said.

This is a legal status and means that he does not share criminal liability or will personally have to appear in court.

Peter Fahy Sir Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, does not share criminal liability and will not have to appear in court

A GMP spokesman said it was "important that these legal processes are allowed to take their course unimpeded in order to seek a resolution for both the family of Mr Grainger and the force".

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is currently investigating the death but will not publish its findings until the legal proceedings have ended.

An initial hearing will be held at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 10 February, the IPCC said.

If convicted, the force could face an unlimited fine.

The BBC's home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said British police forces had been successfully prosecuted for health and safety breaches in the past.

The Metropolitan Police force was found guilty of endangering the public when officers mistakenly shot Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station in south London in July 2005.

In 2003, the same force was taken to court after two police officers fell through roofs while chasing suspects. One officer, PC Kulwant Sidhu, died.

The prosecution case alleged that Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens and his predecessor, Lord Condon failed in their duty to protect officers.

Both were acquitted of health and safety breaches.

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