Call for public inquiry into death of Sheku Bayoh

Sheku Bayoh. Picture: PA
Sheku Bayoh. Picture: PA
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The family of a man who died in police custody have met the first minister to call for a public inquiry to look into the “wider issues” surrounding his death.

Relatives of Mr Bayoh today met with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and justice secretary Michael Matheson at Bute House in Edinburgh.

Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland has already confirmed that a fatal accident inquiry will be held into Mr Bayoh’s death.

A separate investigation is currently being carried out by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc).

But the Bayoh family’s solicitor, Aamer Anwar, said a there were concerns a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) would not have the power to look into the wider issues of deaths in custody, race and police accountability.

Mr Anwar said the first minister had indicated that “serious consideration” would be given to the request for a public inquiry such as that held into the Shirley McKie fingeprint scandal.

Speaking outside Bute House, Mr Anwar said: “It’s now been 29 weeks since Sheku Bayoh lost his life in police custody on the streets of Kirkcaldy.

“His family met with the first minister and the justice secretary this morning to voice their serious concerns at the wider issue of deaths in custody and the inability of Pirc to hold Police Scotland to account.

“The family welcome the first minister’s compassion, but appreciate the Scottish Government cannot comment until the Bayoh investigation is concluded.”

Mr Anwar said the family were pleased the Scottish Government would not “shy away from learning lessons”.

He added: “The family do not believe a fatal accident inquiry has the remit to deal with serious public concerns and wider issues of deaths in custody, the use of restraint techniques, the issue of race, the lack of police accountability and the insufficient powers of the Pirc, nor will the findings of an FAI be binding on Police Scotland.

“On that basis, the family have this morning asked the Scottish Government about the possibility of holding a public inquiry under the Inquiries Act for which there is already legal precedent in Scotland, most recently with the Fingerprint Inquiry, or the UK-wide Leveson Inquiry.

“We understand from the first minister that serious consideration will now be given to such a request.”