No "realistic prospect" of prosecutors proving beyond reasonable doubt

Within days of the not guilty verdict of the bomb plot by two teenage young boys at Manchester, the Crown Prosecution Service takes a different view about the shooting of Mark Saunders.

Apparently, we are told by the Crown Prosecution Service, no police officers will be prosecuted over the fatal shooting of barrister Mark Saunders in what has been described as a siege in London in May 2008. 

Mr Saunders, 32, died after being shot at least five times by police officers in Chelsea.

The shooting followed threats to neighbours and police with a shotgun.  The siege went on for five hours and resulted in a stand-off at Saunders home in Markham Square.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone after the siege.  Charges of murder, attempted murder and manslaughter were considered against seven officers who fired eleven bullets at Mr Saunders.

The CPS came to the view that there was no "realistic prospect" of prosecutors proving beyond reasonable doubt that the armed officers did not act in self defence.  Possible charges of gross negligence and misconduct, and health and safety charges against those in charge of the operation, were also considered. 

What is not completely clear is the reasoning behind the decision not to prosecute personnel, who were not actually threatened, but who were in charge of the operation.

Sally Walsh, of the CPS, said: "Following the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into the shooting of Mark Saunders, I have reviewed the evidence and concluded that there is insufficient evidence to charge any officer in relation to these sad events."

The family of Mark Saunders took action in the High Court seeking a declaration that the investigation by the IPCC was unlawful. The High Court dismissed the  claim by Mark Saunders' family that the independent police investigation was unlawful.

The judge did however raise questions about the police practice of allowing the officers involved to confer.  The issue being that individuals took the opportunity to get together and agree over their version of events.  The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) has since apparently taken action   to stop any conferring in such cases.

An Independent Police Complaints Commission inquiry has been held but the outcome will not be made public until a full inquest into Mr Saunders' death has been held.

A statement issued by Elizabeth Saunders' solicitor reads: "Elizabeth now awaits the inquest which will consider in public why it was necessary for police officers to shoot her husband. She is concerned that nothing should be allowed to deflect attention away from the need for a full, careful and objective consideration of that question."

These incidents present real concerns for those involved and many will remember the shooting of Jean Paul De Menezes on the London underground.

For a full account of the charging decision regarding the shooting of Mark Saunders go to 'Charging decision regarding shooting of Mark Saunders' shown as a link to this article - http://www.cps.gov.uk/news/press_releases/143_09/

 

 

 

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