Sheku Bayoh: Family say ‘nothing less’ than public inquiry will do

Sheku Bayoh.
Sheku Bayoh.

The family of Sheku Bayoh are calling on the Scottish Government to order a public inquiry in to the death of the Kirkcaldy man while he was being restrained by police officers.

They also plan to step up their civil action against Police Scotland.

The moves come after their meeting with the Crown Office at which they said they were told no charges will be brought against any officers.

The family, led by their lawyer, Mr Aamer Anwar, also met with Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, at the Scottish Parliament and “put the Scottish Government on notice that nothing less than a public inquiry will do.”

In a lengthy, and emotive statement, they said: “The dead cannot cry out for Justice, but the living have a duty to do so for them.”

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Mr Bayoh died on a Kirkcaldy street in May 2015 while being restrained by officers responding to calls from the public about a man behaving erratically and brandishing a knife.

His family have mounted a long-running campaign to find out why he died.

The statement said: “The family lost all faith in the ability, competence or willingness of PIRC to deliver a robust impartial investigation over two years ago.

“The family is devastated and feel nothing but a total betrayal by the Lord Advocate’s decision not to prosecute any of the nine officers or Police Scotland.

“Sheku’s family believe they have been failed by those who have a duty to protect the public and uphold the rule of law.”

Mr Amwar said he appreciated the Cabinet Secretary could not act until any review is completed, but “expected him to fulfil the promise made to the family by the First Minister to give serious consideration to a wide ranging public inquiry.”

He added: “Anything less will be seen as a further betrayal of what is left of their desire for the truth and justice.

“The family placed all their faith in the Lord Advocate to fearlessly investigate and prosecute this case in the public interest after Sheku lost his life, but the Lord Advocate was unable to provide the family a reasonable explanation for his actions.

“The family are tired of the mantra ‘this is a complex case and it would be inappropriate to comment.’ – this week the Lord Advocate gave them his decision, but two weeks ago the decision was leaked and there was no investigation, the family were devastated and now because of the review the Lord Advocate will say they cannot comment. “

The Crown Office’s statement after meeting the Bayoh family made no reference to a decision on any possible charges against officers involved.

It said: “The Crown‎ has conducted this investigation with professionalism, integrity and respect.

“It is committed to ensuring that the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Sheku Bayoh are fully aired in an appropriate legal forum and, to that end, it has discussed possible next steps with a small number of colleagues in the justice system.”

The spokesman described it as “a complex investigation” and added that the Crown office “appreciates that it has been a difficult time for Mr Bayoh’s family and for all those involved”, adding: “In order to protect any potential proceedings and to preserve the rights of the family, the Crown will not comment further at this stage.”They were told that he was found dead on a street by a member of the public, that he was found on a street and an ambulance was called, dying on the way to the hospital, or that two civilians were responsible for his death, that he wielded a machete and then a knife hence a violent restraint.