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Thursday, 04 October 2018

Family of man who died in custody ‘disgusted’ as no charges planned over death

Written by The Press Association

The family of a man who died in police custody more than three years ago said they are “disappointed and disgusted” by the Crown’s decision not to bring any prosecutions at present as a result.

Sheku Bayoh (pictured), 31, died after being restrained by officers responding to a call in Kirkcaldy, Fife, on May 3 2015.

Now his family are demanding a public inquiry into his death, with their lawyer pledging they would “continue to fight for the truth”.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has said a public inquiry has not been ruled out.

Mr Bayoh’s family have already been critical of Police Scotland, the Crown Office and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) over what they describe as a lack of answers.

They met Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC on Wednesday for an update on the case, but voiced anger upon learning the Crown Office will not be pursuing prosecutions.

A spokesman for the Crown Office said: “The Crown has conducted this investigation with professionalism, integrity and respect.

“It is committed to ensuring that the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Sheku Bayoh are fully aired in an appropriate legal forum and, to that end, it has discussed possible next steps with a small number of colleagues in the justice system.”

The Crown Office would not comment further in “order to protect any potential proceedings” resulting from what is known as the Victims’ Right to Review, the spokesman said.

Mr Bayoh’s sister Kadijatu Johnson said: “We have left this office very disappointed and disgusted, my brother Sheku has died and yet the police get to walk free.

“The justice system has failed us as a family as well as his two boys Isaac and Tyler.”

The family’s solicitor Aamer Anwar said they want a public inquiry into the incident.

He said: “The family will continue to fight for the truth and seek a review of the decision, albeit they believe that such a process is simply a box-ticking exercise, they have demanded that all evidence must now be disclosed to the family by the Crown Office, and the Lord Advocate must not stand in the way of justice and the pursuit for truth if he will not act.

“They will accept nothing less than a public inquiry from the Scottish Government – a FAI (fatal accident inquiry) would be another betrayal and would do nothing to bring about real change, accountability and justice.”

The family also met Mr Yousaf on Wednesday.

In a statement following the meeting, Mr Yousaf paid tribute to them as having shown “enormous courage in their commitment to establishing the facts about Sheku’s death”.

He added: “As the First Minister has previously said, we are not ruling out the possibility of a public inquiry. That definitely remains an option, but it is a decision that we can take only once the process around criminal proceedings has been fully exhausted.

“Once this process has concluded I have committed that I will update the family and Parliament on any next steps.

“Today was about meeting and listening to the Bayoh family and I will give full consideration to their concerns and wishes.”

Mr Bayoh’s family announced earlier this year that they are suing Police Scotland for £1.85 million, claiming the death could have been avoided and alleging the manner of restraint “was not reasonable, proportionate or necessary”.

The Scottish Green Party has backed the family’s calls for a public inquiry.

Justice spokesman John Finnie, a former police officer, said: “The Scottish Green Party have always supported a thorough investigation of the circumstances leading to Mr Bayoh’s death, such as the family’s request for a full judicial public inquiry under the Inquiries Act to be ordered by the Justice Secretary.

“There are wider considerations which go beyond this case that must be fully understood. Our thoughts are with Mr Bayoh’s family and friends.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Handout / PA Wire.