Home Secretary Jack Straw said today he would consider carefully demands for an inquiry into the actions of Sussex Police in the James Ashley shooting.

Mr Ashley, 39, a suspected drug dealer from Liverpool, was shot dead during an armed police raid on his flat in St Leonards in January 1998.

Members of the Sussex Police special operations unit were told he was a dangerous criminal, wanted in connection with the attempted murder of a man and for drug dealing.

But he was naked and unarmed when officers burst into his flat and shot him dead in front of his girlfriend. They did not find any drugs or guns.

Yesterday three senior officers charged with misconduct for misrepresenting intelligence during the planning of the operation were acquitted at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

Mrs Justice Rafferty directed that Superintendent Chris Burton, 44, acting Chief Inspector Kevin French, 48, and Detective Inspector Christopher Siggs, 42, be found not guilty after the prosecution offered no evidence against them.

On May 2 at the Old Bailey, PC Chris Sherwood, the man who fired at Ashley from point blank range, was cleared of murder.

Today Mr Straw told the Association of Chief Police Officers' conference in Birmingham: "I understand that representations are going to made to me for the establishment of an inquiry into the Sussex force. They will be given careful and proper consideration."

Mr Straw refused to comment on the conduct of individual officers involved in the case, including Sussex Chief Constable Paul Whitehouse.

Sussex Police also today declined to make any statement about yesterday's court proceedings, or about the case itself.

A spokeswoman said: "There are still too many disciplinary matters to be resolved for us to comment at this stage."