A fish merchant has asked for £700 compensation from Sussex Police for closing a road during the memorial service for fallen PC Jeff Tooley.

Jim Partridge wants the money to cover the loss of fish sales when Prime Minister Tony Blair unveiled a memorial stone to the officer in Brighton Road, Shoreham, in July.

Film director Michael Winner, whose Police Memorial Trust organised the tribute, said the claim was "an act of stupidity and cruelty."

He said: "This is an outrage. Roads are closed all over the country every day for royal and state visits, demonstrations, for building work and a whole variety of reasons. It is not normal for people to claim and they are not entitled to anything.

"This road was closed for a short time to honour a dead police hero and I am appalled this man is claiming."

PC Tooley's mother Veronica said she was surprised and said Mr Partridge had forgotten her son was stationed in Shoreham, where his job was to protect local people.

At her home in Bognor she said: "When Jeff died I was running my own care agency supplying auxiliary and domestic care staff.

"After he died I just could not work because I was so upset and could not concentrate. I lost my business and I am now unemployed.

"If this man is so short of money, I'll pay the £700 because the police have been so wonderful to my family I could not bear to see them out of pocket."

Sussex Police confirmed a claim had been received but a spokeswoman added: "Our insurers have advised us to deny liability."

One traffic officer, a friend of PC Tooley's, told the Argus: "I spoke to businesses before the unveiling and most were content about the arrangements.

"This is heartless and below the belt. Jeff was serving the community Mr Partridge works in."

PC Tooley, 26, was killed by hit-and-run driver John Heaton, 47, in April last year in Brighton Road, where the memorial stands. Heaton's seven-year sentence sparked an Argus campaign for increased sentencing powers.

The claim for compensation by 51-year-old Mr Patridge, who runs Monteum fish merchants of Shoreham, has caused a storm among Sussex officers. But last night, Mr Partridge was unrepentant.

He said he was sympathetic to Jeff Tooley's family and felt sorry for PC Tooley, describing his death as tragic.

But he said business was business and he questioned why PC Tooley was checking car speeds on the night of his death.

He said he was told by a police officer that night-time radar checks were considered too dangerous.

He had complained to local authorities about the dangers on Brighton Road but was told to "go forth and multiply".

Mr Partridge said the memorial unveiling to PC Tooley cost him money. He said as far as his customers were concerned, his business was closed all of that day and "unsold fish gets thrown away".

He said he did not expect to receive the £700 but he made the claim to make a point.

He objected to the Prime Minister conducting the memorial unveiling, saying Mr Blair would have been better employed running the country: "If he has spare time, he should be spending it with his new son."

Mr Partridge said he had sympathy with West Sussex farmer Paul Langmead, who made a compensation claim against Sussex Police in July for damage to crops caused during the search for murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne.

Angry criticism from the eight-year-old girl's family led Mr Langmead to withdraw the claim.

Mr Partridge said his brother-in-law and his brother leased the field to Mr Langmead and added: "It was totally unnecessary to wreck his field - and it was Sussex Police who told him to make a claim."