Chief constable faces breach charge

Preston and Leyland Citizen: Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy is accused of failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act over the death of an unarmed man Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy is accused of failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act over the death of an unarmed man

The chief constable of one of the UK's biggest police forces will be charged with a health and safety breach over the shooting of an unarmed odd-job man, but the marksman who took the fatal shot is to face no action.

Prosecutors have announced that Sir Peter Fahy, from Greater Manchester Police (GMP), is accused of failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act over the shooting of Anthony Grainger in March 2012.

He is "corporation sole" for the force, a legal status that means he is a representative of GMP but does not share criminal liability.

Father-of-two Mr Grainger, 36, was shot by a GMP marksman after his car was stopped as part of a planned operation in Culcheth, Cheshire.

He was unarmed and there were no weapons in the car.

His cousin Wesley Ahmed, 45, said that the family would now consider bringing a private prosecution against the officer who fired the fatal shot, and possibly commanders who led the operation.

"I expected this, you can't get justice in this country, you've got no chance," Mr Ahmed said.

"I have been campaigning all over the country and none of the other deaths in custody families have managed to get justice.

"It's set for the police to be immune from prosecution.

"They have no accountability when it comes to a death in custody.

"If it was fraud, they would go to prison straightaway.

"People have been fighting for 20-odd years, you can't win.

"I thought Anthony's case might be the first one to crack the mould because they shot and killed an unarmed man.

"Now we'll look at a private prosecution.

"If I have a setback or a knock back it makes me stronger and more defiant.

"There has got to be a way to beat the system."

The Crown Prosecution Service decided the marksman who killed Mr Grainger should not face charges for murder or manslaughter because a jury would be likely to accept that he believed his actions were necessary.

"In the circumstances of this case, our assessment of the evidence is that a jury would accept that the officer did believe his actions were necessary and that the level of force used in response to the threat as he perceived it to be was proportionate," it said.

The first hearing for the health and safety charge will be on February 10 at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

If the force is convicted, it could face an unlimited fine.

Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: "After careful consideration we have decided that the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Sir Peter Fahy, should be prosecuted as a corporation sole for failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

"In addition to every employer's responsibility towards their employees, the law also imposes a duty to ensure that work is carried out in a way that ensures, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons outside of their employment are not exposed to risk.

"The chief officers of police forces are treated as employers for this purpose.

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

GMP could not face a charge of corporate manslaughter because the force had no relevant duty of care towards Mr Grainger.

Deputy Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: " Since Mr Grainger's death 22 months ago, Greater Manchester Police has co-operated fully with the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Crown Prosecution Service and HM Coroner.

"Our sympathies remain with Mr Grainger's family and we deeply regret the loss that they have suffered.

"Mr Grainger's family, and the officers involved, have had to wait a long time for this decision to be reached and we share the frustrations over those delays.

"However, we understand that it was vitally important that the investigation was carried out thoroughly to establish all the facts.

"Now that a charging decision has been made regarding the force itself, it is equally 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."

After Mr Grainger died, claims emerged that the father-of-two had earlier been wrongly suspected of stealing a memory stick containing the names of police informants.

The Mail on Sunday reported that he and two associates were put under surveillance in an operation involving nearly 100 officers, and that armed teams were briefed that he might open fire at police, despite there being no evidence of him having access to weapons.

The fatal shot was fired by an officer carrying a Heckler and Koch MP5 carbine and this passed through the car windscreen and hit Mr Grainger in the chest while he was in the driver's seat.

The car had been stolen and had false registration plates.

Mr Grainger was described as an ''odd job man'' who was born in Salford and lived in Deane Church Lane, Bolton.

He was a defendant in a multimillion-pound drugs trial which led to a juror being jailed for contempt of court.

Joanne Fraill, 40, was sentenced to eight months in prison in 2011 after she admitted exchanging Facebook messages with co-defendant Jamie Sewart, 34, who had already been acquitted in August 2010 at Minshull Street Crown Court.

Mr Grainger was cleared of conspiracy to supply drugs but admitted handling stolen cars in connection with the case and was jailed for 20 months.

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