PC on murder charge over raid

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The Independent Online
A POLICE officer has been charged with murder after a naked man was shot during a raid by armed officers.

The Crown Prosecution Service announced last night that Constable Chris Sherwood, of Sussex Police, had been charged with the murder and manslaughter of James Ashley, who died in January last year. Mr Ashley, 39, was in bed with his girlfriend at his flat in St Leonards, East Sussex, when officers from Sussex Police's Special Operations Unit carried out an early- morning raid. Mr Ashley was shot in the chest.

PC Sherwood was charged after an investigation into Mr Ashley's death, which was led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Barbara Wilding of Kent police. Four other Sussex officers were charged with misfeasance in public office, a common law offence that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

They were named as Superintendent Christopher Burton, acting Detective Chief Inspector Kevin French, Detective Inspector Christopher Paul Siggs and Constable Robert Shoesmith.

The five officers will appear before magistrates at Bow Street in London on 21 May.

A separate investigation into the role of the senior command of Sussex Police, which was led by Sir John Hoddinott, the Chief Constable of Hampshire, found "insufficient evidence" to bring charges against the Chief Constable of Sussex, Paul Whitehouse, his deputy Mark Jordan, and Assistant Chief Constables Maria Wallis and Nigel Yeo. Mr Whitehouse, 55, was suspended three weeks ago after criticism of his role in the James Ashley case.

Last night Sussex Police Authority issued a statement to say the suspension of Mr Whitehouse had been lifted. The chairman of the authority, Ken Bodfish, said: "The authority decided that it is in the interests of the people of Sussex and of the force that Paul Whitehouse should resume his office of Chief Constable."