Sheku Bayoh inquiry: No guarantee officers won't be prosecuted over death of man in police custody

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Scotland's Solicitor General has refused to guarantee immunity for police officers who give evidence to the Sheku Bayoh inquiry, saying it is still possible it could be used against them in a future prosecution.

The Crown has reserved its right to prosecute in all matters related to this case, ahead of an coming public inquiry into the death of Mr Bayoh that will open in May.

The inquiry will seek to clarify events surrounding the death of Mr Bayoh, who was black and aged 31, in May 2015 after he was restrained by police on Kirkcaldy’s Hayfield road.

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The inquiry had asked the Crown for assurances that 12 officers named in the investigation would not have their evidence used against them in any prosecution arising from his death, or the way in which police managed the incident afterwards.

Sheku Bayoh died in police custodySheku Bayoh died in police custody
Sheku Bayoh died in police custody

However, the Crown has now responded, stating it would not be in the public interest to grant such immunity to anyone giving evidence.

In a statement, the Crown said: “The Crown has reserved its right to prosecute in all matters related to this case.

"This decision has been communicated to the inquiry and to the solicitors of the family of Mr Bayoh and of the officers involved.”

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Confirming the decision, Solicitor General Ruth Charteris QC said: “I respect the request from the inquiry and the views of the core participants in relation to this.

"Prosecutors must consider all cases on their individual facts and circumstances and act in the public interest.

“I have considered all the information available to me and I am not currently satisfied that it is in the public interest to grant the undertakings.

“It is not known if officers will invoke their right to claim privilege against self-incrimination, nor is it known what impact any such claim would have on the totality of the evidence available to the inquiry.

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“I will give individual consideration to any future request for an undertaking should it become clear that the inquiry will be prevented from fulfilling its terms of reference.”

The public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Mr Bayoh’s death will also examine whether his race was a factor.