A GRIEVING family today called for a Government investigation after a man was cleared of murder following a claim of incompetence against his own solicitor.

Mr Mohammed Iqbal and his wife Walyat are to ask Home Secretary Jack Straw to examine the case of their 18-year-old son Shehzad, who was stabbed to death on a Blackburn street corner in December 1995.

Charges were dropped against Londoner Rashid Mankda after prosecuting barrister Guy Gozem QC told a court that his solicitor Owen Sharples had acted "woefully below the standards of competence" following his arrest.

Mr Gozem said the Crown had decided "with considerable regret" to offer no further evidence against Mankda, who now has a different solicitor. The Crown Prosecution Service has now closed its case file and police today confirmed that they had no plans to reopen inquiries into the death of Shehzad, 18, of Saunders Road, Blackburn.

It left the family never knowing who is responsible for the death of their son.

Today Shehzad's father, taxi-driver Mohammed Iqbal, 42, said: "I have no words to explain what has happened. My heart is burning.

"I am going to see everybody I can, even if I have to go to the Home Office."

Shehzad, an A-level student at St Mary's College, died after being stabbed in West Park Road, Blackburn, in December 1995.

Rashid Mankda was cleared of the murder by Manchester Crown Court following a five-day investigation into the conduct of Mr Sharples, who acted on Mr Mankda's behalf immediately after his arrest. Mr Gozem QC said following five days of legal argument vital identification evidence and interviews had been ruled inadmissable by the judge.

He said there was "a real risk of one or more mistaken identifications being placed before the jury."

It was stressed that Mr Sharples had not represented the accused for over a year.

Shehzad's father and mother, Walyat, 40, said they were still struggling to come to terms with his death.

His brother Usman, one, was only nine-months-old when Shehzad died and sister Iqram Shehzadi, who has been named after her older brother, who would have been 20 on May 29.

Mr Iqbal added: "On the day of Shehzad's birthday I did not change the date on the calendar. How could I. That date does not exist for me any more."

Housewife Walyat added: "Usman will be two on June 17, but how can we celebrate. This has destroyed our lives."

Mr Sharples, a former deputy Blackburn coroner, who operates from offices in Preston New Road, Blackburn, said he was told of the decision to drop the charge against Mr Mankda by Blackburn CID officers.

He said: "I cannot comment about what has been said because it was said in an open court. But I am shocked by what has happened and it is not pleasant to have this sort of criticism levelled against you.

"Nothing like this has ever happened to me before during my career and the whole thing has come as a shock. This is not a situation I have ever found myself in before."

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