Police chief cannot be prosecuted
A chief constable cannot be prosecuted over a fatal police shooting because evidence is too sensitive to be revealed to a jury in court.
Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) was due to stand trial at Liverpool Crown Court, charged with Heath and Safety breaches following the fatal shooting of Anthony Grainger, 36, in Culcheth, Cheshire in 2012.
Following an extensive covert surveillance operation police believed they had intelligence Mr Grainger and two others were planning an armed robbery on a Sainsbury's store.
But lawyers for Sir Peter, prosecuted as head of the force, argued he could not get a fair trail if certain evidence, which has not been disclosed, was not made public in court.
The trial judge Mr Justice William Davis ordered that the evidence should be given if the defendant was to get a fair trial - at which point the prosecution decided not to proceed with the case.
The prosecution argued some evidence gathered by police was so secret it would not be in the public interest to be given in court.
Mr Grainger's family, calling for a public inquiry, said they were "hugely disappointed" at the outcome and "simply want answers".
Following the collapse of the case today the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement: "We have considered the rulings made by the judge that there is material which needs to be disclosed in open court in order for the defendant to have a fair trial.
"After consulting with relevant parties, we have concluded that we are unable to reveal that material for public interest reasons. We are therefore unable to proceed."
Sir Peter, who had pleaded not guilty, had been charged as the "corporation sole" for the force, a legal status that means he is a representative of GMP but does not share criminal liability.
The firearms officer who shot Mr Grainger has not been prosecuted and today's decision at Liverpool Crown Court effectively ends all criminal proceedings over the death of Mr Grainger.
An inquest is due to be held later this year.
The hearing before Mr Justice William Davis at Liverpool Crown Court began on Tuesday but press and public were excluded from the court for much of the time by order of the judge.
Mr Justice Davis also ordered that the names of about 30 officers must not be made public.
During parts of the hearing held in public, the court heard police launched Operation Shire in October 2011, into the activities of a group of individuals believed to be an organised crime group.
The group were put under covert surveillance and officers given authority to carry firearms based on the "intelligence profiles" of the individual suspects.
This led to the fatal police "strike" on March 3 2012, as police said they had intelligence that a robbery was "imminent" and an arrest should take place.
The prosecution case was that GMP made "26 failings" arising out of armed police officers being deployed without any proper intelligence basis for doing so and when the use of armed police was unnecessary or premature.
Sir Peter, as head of GMP, faced charges that he failed to discharge a duty under section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in contravention of section 33 (1) of the Act in that as an employer he "failed to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure as far as reasonably practicable" that the planning for "the police action leading to the intended arrest" of Mr Grainger did not expose him to a health or safety risk.
Mr Grainger, a father of two, was shot dead by a police marksman as he sat in a stolen Audi car in Culcheth in March 2012.
He was unarmed and there were no weapons in the car.
The Crown Prosecution Service has decided the marksman should not face charges for murder or manslaughter because a jury would be likely to accept that he believed his actions were necessary.
Mr Grainger is believed to be the first person to die in a police shooting since Mark Duggan in London, whose death sparked rioting in the capital and other cities across the country.
Mr Grainger, from Bolton, was shot through the windscreen of the stolen Audi car he was in when police carried out the attempted arrest.
David Totton, Robert Rimmer, and Joseph Travers, all from Manchester, were arrested at the scene but later found not guilty of conspiracy to rob following a trial at Manchester Crown Court in September 2012.
William Boyce QC, prosecuting, told the court today the prosecution was dropping the case because there was "no route" by which they could comply with the Judge's rulings "whilst maintaining the public interest" and so was obliged to offer no evidence.
The judge directed a verdict of not guilty be entered.
Mr Justice Davis added: "I know you were left with no alternative whatsoever."
A statement issued by solicitors on behalf of Mr Grainger's family said: "The family of Anthony are hugely disappointed at the decision not to proceed with the prosecution of Sir Peter Fahy.
"They have waited three years for this trial. During that period the inquest has not been able to progress and they now find that they are no nearer to the truth.
"They simply want answers.
"This matter must now proceed to a public inquiry. If a jury in a criminal court cannot deal with the case the family would question how a jury in an inquest could consider the evidence and we will be petitioning the Home Secretary in this regard next week."
Deputy Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, from GMP, said: "The family of Mr Grainger deserve to understand the events that led to Anthony's death on that Saturday evening in 2012.
"The coronial process is still to conclude and as such Greater Manchester Police are unable to comment any further on Mr Grainger's death.
"Greater Manchester Police wishes to extend its sympathy to Anthony Grainger's family who will no doubt be hugely disappointed with the events of today.
"Today's decision only reinforces the necessity for a different and more timely process of inquiry into these types of incidents."