THE family of a Bolton dad shot and killed by a police marksman have welcomed the announcement a judge-led public inquiry is to be held to probe the circumstances of his death.

Anthony Grainger, of Deane Church Lane, Deane, died from a single shot fired by an armed police officer during what GMP called a "pre-planned operation" to arrest suspected armed robbers in Culcheth, near Warrington, Cheshire.

The 36-year-old was sitting in the front seat of an Audi outside a Sainsbury's supermarket when the bullet came through the windscreen and hit him in the chest, causing fatal injuries, on March 3 2012.

His family started a Justice4Grainger campaign in the wake of the father-of-two's death to get to be the bottom of what happened and why.

They lobbied for the judge-led inquest into Mr Grainger's death - currently being held Warrington Coroner's Court - to be replaced by a public inquiry so that Judge Thomas Teague is actually able to view and consider GMP's secret evidence and can consider any police failings alongside the factual circumstances of Mr Grainger's death while having the benefit of a larger investigative budget at his disposal.

So they were pleased when Home Secretary Theresa May said on Thursday: "I am today announcing that the inquest into the death of Anthony Grainger is to become a judge-led inquiry.

"Judge Teague can now begin his review of this case.

"It has been necessary to convert the inquest to a statutory inquiry so all relevant evidence can be heard by the Judge.

"I have agreed with Judge Teague that the inquiry will have the same scope as the current inquest, which has been adjourned prior to the setting up of the inquiry.

"My hope is that this inquiry will be able to determine how and in what circumstances Mr Grainger came by his death and that this can bring some solace to his family."

A report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the police action surrounding Mr Grainger's death has never been published although it was leaked.

And a prosecution of former GMP chief constable Sir Peter Fahy on the force's behalf over 26 alleged health and safety failings collapsed at Liverpool Crown Court in January 2015.

The CPS offered no evidence and a not guilty verdict was recorded after the GMP's legal team argued the 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.

In a statement released through their solicitor Jonathan Bridge, of Farleys Solicitors, Mr Grainger's mother, stepfather and brother said: "We have been petitioning the Home Secretary for over a year to hold a public inquiry into the death of Anthony Grainger.

"We are pleased that she has today made a ministerial statement before Parliament to confirm that an inquiry will be convened.

"The family have already waited for over four years to learn the true facts surrounding Anthony’s death and are keen that there be a full and transparent inquiry with all material made available, particularly the secret evidence that prevented the criminal proceedings against the Chief Constable from continuing.

"The public inquiry should now allow such secret material to be properly considered."

Between 2009 and 2010, Mr Grainger was a defendant in one of Bolton's biggest and most complex ever drug cases but the jury failed to reach a verdict on his drug charges after three trials.

He was jailed for 20 months after admitting handling stolen cars.