Sheku Bayoh death – MSP calls for full inquiry

Sheku Bayoh
Sheku Bayoh

The controversy surrounding the death of Sheku Bayoh is set to be raised at Holyrood following the broadcast of a TV documentary.

Claire Baker MSP says she wants answers from the Scottish Govenrment and police – and a full inquiry to establish what exactly happened three years ago.

She took part in the BBC1 Scotland documentary that aired on Monday, and which claimed to reveal new evidence about his death after being restrained on a Kirkcaldy street in 2015.

The documentary said it had statements which suggested that the first officers on scene escalated the situation instead of trying to defuse it, and it showed grainy mobile phone footage showing the moments police arrived on the scene which, it said, questioned officers’ claims a female officer was kicked and stamped on by Mr Bayoh.

The programme also reported claims from Mr Bayoh’s family that they believed racism also played a role in the events that led to his death.

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Police Scotland did not comment, and the Scottish Police Federation, which declined to participate, later published on social media its letter explaining why – saying the programme had “wholly misrepresented the realities of the events” and said it looked forward to the judicial process which will bring an end to “innuendo and smear”.

Now Ms Baker has called for an inquiry after the publication of CCTV footage and extracts from the police officers’ statements.

The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP has been one of the few local politicians to speak on the issue since Mr Bayoh’s death three years ago.

She said: “The information that was revealed raises serious questions that must be urgently answered and that is why I am seeking to raise these directly in Parliament.

“I recognise the police do a difficult job but something went wrong that morning. The police regularly deal with similar incidents, including apprehending actual armed suspects, however these don’t lead to fatalities.”

She said Mr Bayoh’s death was “entirely avoidable” and that “serious questions have been raised about the proportionate nature of the police’s response”.

She added: “The Scottish Government must commit to undertaking an inquiry.

“We can’t be complacent about the issues that have become evident.

“There are serious questions to be asked about the police response, the way in which deaths in custody are investigated, and how families are treated when they lose a loved one.”