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Police apology over 'inexcusable' Cherry Groce failings

The country's most senior police chief has apologised 'unreservedly' and said it was 'inexcusable' that it had taken until now to say sorry for police failings which contributed to the death of Cherry Groce, whose shooting by an officer triggered the 1985 Brixton riots.

Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said: "I apologise unreservedly for our failings.

"I also apologise for the inexcusable fact that it has taken until now for the Met to make that public apology. Sadly this means that the person that most deserved to hear that apology, those words that we are sorry, is no longer here.

"Mrs Groce bore her suffering with dignity, and her story is a powerful reminder to all our officers of our responsibilities where we use force or plan for its possible use."


  1. London

Groce jury returns verdict on day 3 of deliberations

The jury returned their verdict on the third day of deliberations.

  • The mother-of-eight died 26 years after the shooting in 2011, aged 63, from kidney failure, which a pathologist directly linked to the gunshot injury
  • Mrs Groce's shooting by Metropolitan Police Inspector Douglas Lovelock sparked two days of unrest during which shops were looted and petrol bombs thrown in Brixton
  • Lovelock, who admitted being responsible for the wound, told the inquest he had apprehensions about going on the job
  1. London

Police 'failed to communicate' in hunt for Michael Groce

  • Dorothy Groce, known as Cherry, was wounded and paralysed by armed police who were searching for her son in a planned raid at her home in south London
  • A jury at at Southwark Coroner's Court found that police failed to communicate properly during the hunt for Michael Groce and to adequately check who was living at the address before the raid

'Deficiencies' in police raid on Cherry Groce home

The armed raid on the home of Cherry Groce in 1985 had "serious deficiencies", the inquest into her death has been told.

This was among the conclusions of Assistant Chief Constable West Yorkshire police John Domaille, who produced a 357-page report on the incident.

In summing up the conclusions made in the Domaille report, Dexter Dias QC for the Groce family said:

He reached the conclusion that the most prudent course of action in this case would have been for the operation not to have proceeded forthwith but instead for an intelligence-gathering exercise to take place and that to go ahead as planned with a surprise entry with such lack of information about the layout of the premises and details of the occupants and bearing in mind that the light was on downstairs, he found, would create an adverse risk.

– Dexter Dias QC


Background: Cherry Groce inquest

An inquest into the death of Cherry Groce, whose shooting by police sparked the Brixton riots, is due to begin today.

Cherry Groce, who was shot by police in 1985, died in 2011. Credit: PA
  • Cherry Groce was paralysed below the waist when she was accidentally shot by police at her home in 1985.
  • Officers were seeking her son, Michael, during an early morning raid.
  • Cherry Groce died in April 2011, having spent 26 years in a wheelchair.
  • Ministers overturned a decision to block legal aid for lawyers to represent Mrs Groce's family at the inquest after a petition attracted 130,000 signatures.
  • The Legal Aid Agency initially denied funding but referred the case to ministers following a campaign by her relatives and Labour MP Chuka Umunna.
  • The inquest into Mrs Groce's death comes after documents obtained by Channel 4 News revealed that a pathologist for the family and a pathologist for the police both concluded there is a causal link between the shooting and her death.

Police 'should finally own up' at Cherry Groce inquest

The Metropolitan Police should "finally own up to their responsibility" for the events surrounding the death of Cherry Groce, said her family's lawyer ahead of an inquest starting today.

Clare Richardson from Bhatt Murphy, the solicitors representing the Groce family, said:

The passage of time since Mrs Groce was shot in her home 29 years ago cannot be a reason to obscure the need for rigorous public scrutiny into all the surrounding circumstances.

Our clients now look to the Metropolitan Police to ensure that they finally own up to their responsibility for those events: this means that they should approach the inquest with the courage to allow the kind of scrutiny that they have so markedly failed to provide over these decades.

– Clare Richardson
  1. London

Son searches for answers 29 years after mum was shot

An inquest into the death of a mother whose shooting sparked the 1985 Brixton riots is due to take place today. Cherry Groce was paralysed below the waist when she was accidentally shot by police looking for her son, Michael, during an early morning raid on her home.

Mrs Groce's son Lee Lawrence, who was 11 years old when he saw his mother shot, said:

We have fought long and hard to be heard and get answers. It is thanks to each and every one who signed the petition to grant our family legal aid that we will be properly represented in court.