Chief constable brings forward resignation over shooting death

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The Independent Online

The Chief Constable of Sussex, Paul Whitehouse, who said last week he would resign in September over the shooting dead of an unarmed man, announced last night that he had left the force.

Mr Whitehouse had planned to remain in charge until 25 September and, officially, he will continue to hold the title of Chief Constable to meet the terms of his contract and to protect his pension rights. But after a meeting yesterday with the chairwoman of Sussex Police Authority he announced he was quitting his "operational role" with immediate effect.

Mr Whitehouse had announced his resignation from the post on Tuesday last week after the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, invited the police authority to consider sacking him over the shooting of a suspected drug dealer, James Ashley, in January 1998. The force was severely criticised by two independent inquiries that examined the operation.

Last night, Mr Whitehouse said: "I have agreed with the police authority that while I shall remain as Chief Constable, I shall cease my operational role with immediate effect."

When announcing his resignation, he had described himself as "hurt and angry" and vowed to clear his name over the shooting of 33-year-old Mr Ashley, who was naked and unarmed, in a bungled drug raid by his officers.

Margaret Johnson, the Police Authority chairwoman, said Mr Whitehouse's decision to leave was "a proper reflection of the views of the authority".