The family of a man who died in police custody in Fife say they had a “robust and honest” meeting with Police Scotland chief constable Sir Stephen House today to discuss their concerns over police conduct.
Sheku Bayoh, 31, a trainee gas engineer died on 3 May after he was restrained by officers following an incident in Kirkcaldy.
Sir Stephen, who recently announced he was stepping down from his post, has faced criticism for not meeting the family who have launched a campaign to find out what led to Mr Bayoh’s death.
The family had already expressed a lack of faith in the independence of an investigation by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) and last week were told they could select additional experts.
Aamer Anwar, the family’s solicitor described today’s meeting as a “very robust and honest discussion” and said that no chief constable should be put in Sir Stephen’s position of being unable to comment publicly on the case due to the Pirc investigation.
Mr Anwar said: “The family appreciated the compassion that the Chief Constable showed them as well as the personal regret he expressed for their ordeal.
“The Bayoh family understand the frustrations of the Chief Constable not being able to speak publicly because of an ongoing PIRC investigation. In future no Chief Constable should be placed in such a position.
“The Chief Constable has assured the family that he would expect Police Scotland to learn any lessons following the completion of the investigation and all legal proceedings.”
Mr Anwar added: “However the Bayoh family wanted assurances from the Chief Constable that when he leaves the promises he made to them are kept by Police Scotland. To that end it was important that two Senior Officers in Police Scotland, Deputy Chief Constable Ian Livingstone and Assistant Chief Constable Ruaraidh Nicolson were also present who have the full confidence of the Bayoh family.
“At the meeting the family reiterated that they could never accept police officers lying to them with several versions of what happened to Sheku Bayoh in the hours following his death in custody. The first version told to Collette (Mr Bayoh’s partner) was that a member of the public had found Sheku’s body on the street.”
Mr Anwar concluded: “The Bayoh family accept the Chief Constable’s commitment to co-operate fully with the inquiry ordered by the Lord Advocate and he also confirmed that he will meet with the family again in due course.
“The Bayoh family believe that Police Officers must always act as our public servants and not as our masters. They hope that Police Scotland and any successor to Stephen House will take heed of the lessons that need to be learned so that no other family is put through the ordeal that the Bayoh’s have had to endure.”