Sheku Bayoh’s family to help choose new experts

Sheku Bayoh's family  L-R, Collette and Loraine Bell, lawyer Aamer Anwar, Adeyemi and Kedi Johnson arrive at PIRC's headquarters in Hamilton. PIC: JOHN DEVLIN
Sheku Bayoh's family L-R, Collette and Loraine Bell, lawyer Aamer Anwar, Adeyemi and Kedi Johnson arrive at PIRC's headquarters in Hamilton. PIC: JOHN DEVLIN

The family of Sheku Bayoh are given opportunity to choose additional experts to investigate the father-of-two’s death in police custody.

Relatives met with the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner today (Thursday) in Hamilton to discuss an ongoing investigation into Mr Bayoh’s death in Kirkcaldy on May 3.

The trainee gas engineer died while being detained on Hayfield Road using CS, pepper spray and batons.

The family had previously criticised the PIRC for being ineffective and feared a whitewash after it emerged the watchdog had consulted with experts in ‘excited delerium’ - a controversial medical condition often cited in police custody death cases.

A PIRC spokesman said Mr Bayoh’s family had been updated on work undertaken to date in the investigation and were given an opportunity to provide information they felt was relevant to it.

He said: “The Commissioner, Kate Frame, considered that today’s meeting was constructive and welcomed the opportunity to listen to the family’s concerns and confirmed that they are being addressed through a robust investigation.

“Central to this is providing the family with a clear understanding of what caused Sheku Bayoh’s death, since the post mortem conducted shortly after was inconclusive.

He continued: “To this end, a number of expert forensic pathologists have been commissioned, on the instructions of the Lord Advocate, to further investigate and provide an opinion on how Sheku Bayoh died.

“The Commissioner today invited the family to participate in the process of identifying additional experts.

“Once all expert reports are completed they will be passed to the Lord Advocate for his consideration.

“The Commissioner reassured the family that she and her team of investigators are objectively exploring all lines of enquiry and has encouraged the family to contribute to that process.

“The importance of further dialogue was agreed.

“The Commissioner reiterated her commitment to carrying out a thorough and independent investigation to get to the truth of the matter.”

Following the meeting MSP Claire Baker called for a review into deaths in police custody and the powers of the PIRC.

The MId Scotland and Fife representative has worked closely with Mr Bayoh’s family and previously met with Pirc and the Lord Advocate to discuss the case.

“The tragic death of Sheku Bayoh has raised many unanswered questions and it is vital that the family are able to learn the truth about what happened that morning,” she said.

“Not only have they raised serious concerns about the incident and its immediate aftermath but they have also raised concerns about the investigation process. It is vital that we ensure this process is as robust as possible and instils confidence in the public.

She concluded: “That is why I called for a review into deaths in police custody and the investigative powers of Pirc to be included in any review of Police Scotland. We can’t afford to repeat the same mistakes being made again.”