Politicians join debate over police custody death of Sheku Bayoh

Sheku Bayoh funeral.
Sheku Bayoh funeral.

After weeks of silence, Kirkcaldy’s leading politicians have spoken out over the death of Sheku Bayoh.

David Torrance MSP and Roger Mullin MP issued a joint statement calling for an update from the police investigation team to stem the tide of “rumour and speculation” surrounding the death of the Kirkcaldy man while in police custody on May 3.

They spoke of their ‘‘increasing concerns’’ at the lack of updates from the Police Investigations and Review Commission (PIRC) – the independent group set up to investigate serious incidents involving the police.

Until now, only Claire Baker MSP has spoken on the issue – she was also on the platform and spoke at a rally staged immediately after Mr Bayoh’s funeral.

With the family still seeking answers to how he died while in police custody, the town’s MP and MSP have called for information and greater clarity.

Mr Torrance said: “Since the death of Sheku Bayoh, I have been maintaining a public silence as, along with Mr Mullin, we sought to influence the pace and extent of the investigation by conducting private communications with a range of parties, including the Minister for Justice and the Lord Advocate.

“We are increasingly concerned, however, at the lack of update on the PIRC investigation. Over the past few months I have met with the family and been in correspondence with the Lord Advocate’s Office on a number of occasions to voice my concerns. Two weeks ago, I wrote to the Lord Advocate suggesting some form of interim statement or report on the PIRC investigation may be appropriate, as rumour and speculation is inevitably intensifying and serving no one’s interests, let alone the wider public interest.”

Mr Mullin added: “When media speculation involves naming individuals involved in this tragic incident, which then leads to further public speculation, it is surely time for greater clarity.

“Justice not only needs to prevail, but must be seen to prevail. I am not content with the pace of the PIRC investigation, which is only serving to delay the start of a Fatal Accident Inquiry. When this case is concluded, I am increasingly of the view that PIRC’s capacity and capability needs reviewing.”

Meanwhile, Mr Bayoh’s sister, Kadi Johnson, has blamed the police for using “excessive force” for his death – and failing to follow protocols.

In a radio interview, she said her family has no confidence in the police after his death. Ms Johnson (37) called for officers to be made to provide statements to PIRC.

The family will launch its ‘Justice for Sheku Bayoh Campaign’ at a conference on ‘Deaths in Custody’ in Glasgow on Saturday.