THE family of a Bolton father shot dead by police are calling for a public inquiry after a case against force chief Sir Peter Fahy collapsed.

Anthony Grainger, aged 36, from Deane, was shot dead by armed police responding to an "pre-planned operation" in Culcheth, near Leigh, on March 3, 2012.

Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy was charged with health and safety breaches in relation to Mr Grainger's death, which he denied.

No evidence was offered by the prosecution at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday. It was argued evidence gathered by police was so secret it could not be shown to a jury and therefore the defendant could not get a fair trial.

The family of father-of-two Mr Grainger said they were "hugely disappointed" at the decision not to proceed against Mr Fahy.

They questioned how a jury at an inquest could consider the evidence after the ruling that a jury at a criminal court would be unable to do so.

They vowed to petition Home Secretary Theresa May on the matter this week.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said Mr Grainger's family "deserve" to understand the events that led to his death.

Tony Lloyd, police and crime commissioner, said health and safety legislation was not the right sort to be used for this sort of case, and said he would be discussing that aspect of the case with Mrs May.

In a statement made through their solicitors, 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 they are no nearer to the truth.

"They simply want answers.

"This matter now must 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."

Mr Grainger died from a single gunshot wound to the chest in a police operation to arrest suspected armed robbers.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigated and passed its findings to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), who opted to charge Mr Fahy on the basis of that information.

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.

But following an application by his defence that his prosecution was an abuse of process the prosecution offered no evidence and a not guilty verdict was recorded.

It was argued evidence gathered by police was so secret it could not be shown to a jury and therefore the defendant could not get a fair trial.

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.

Deputy chief constable Ian Hopkins said: “It is now nearly three years since the death of Anthony Grainger during an armed policing operation by GMP officers investigating individuals suspected of being involved in serious criminality.

"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 GMP are unable to comment any further on Mr Grainger's death.

"The force recognises that will be frustrating for many people, but it is important to respect the integrity of the coronial process so that the full facts can be established without any prejudice.

“GMP 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 enquiry into these types of incidents.”

Police and crime commissioner Tony Lloyd said: "I have enormous sympathy for the family of Anthony Grainger as we are now three years on from his death and they are really no closer to finding out what happened to him.

"They will be rightly disappointed by the collapse of this case.

“The family and the wider public deserve to know what took place during the police operation that led to Anthony Grainger’s death.

"I can only now urge that the coronial process is expedited to bring these issues to a conclusion as quickly as possible so the family can finally have the answers they seek.

"It cannot be right for anyone involved – and that includes the police officers involved in the operation – that we are three years on and there is still a significant amount of time to go before it comes to an end. This does not serve the public interest.

“I do not believe that it was ever right to spend the best part of a year pursuing the truth by using health and safety legislation.

"Health and safety laws are in place, rightly, to protect workers and the public in the workplace.

"They are not intended to sit in judgement on policing operations such as these, as the collapse of this case has shown.

“Central government must review this case to ensure the proper lessons are learnt.

"We cannot have years go by in tragic cases like this before proper conclusions can be drawn.

"We cannot have major matters of public policy being determined by health and safety legislation that was not drawn up with this kind of case in mind.

"I will be raising this directly with the home secretary.”