Sheku family call for public inquiry

Sheku Bayoh died in police custody in May
Sheku Bayoh died in police custody in May

Relatives of Sheku Bayoh have called on the First Minister to order a full public inquiry into his death in police custody.

On Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon met with the 31-year-old’s family in Edinburgh, alongside Justice Minister Michael Matheson.

Sheku Bayoh, a father-of-two, died on May 3 after being detained by police officers on Hayfield Road.

His death is currently being investigated by the Police Investigations and Review Commisioner (Pirc) and, by law, a fatal accident inquiry will follow.

Speaking after the meeting , the family’s lawyer Aamer Anwar said: “The family welcomed the First Minister’s compassion and support but appreciate the Scottish Government cannot comment until the Bayoh investigation is concluded.”

He added: “The family do not believe a fatal accident inquiry has the remit to deal with serious, public concerns, the wider issues of deaths in custody, the use of restraint techniques, the issue of race, the lack of police accountability and the insufficient powers of the Pirc.

“Nor will the finding of an FAI be binding on Police Scotland.”

He said the First Minister would give his request “serious consideration”.

Meanwhile, a Fife police boss has admitted officers are “very frustrated” by some statements in the press.

Chief Inspector Stevie Hamilton, who leads the Fife division of Police Scotland, was speaking at a recent conference organised by racial equalities charity FRAE Fife.

CI Hamilton was asked by Solidarity Party candidate Bill Mair why Police Scotland seemed incapable of detecting a ‘mole’, apparently within Police Scotland, leaking “personal opinions and implications” about Sheku Bayoh to the media.

Mr Hamilton agreed no information released before an official investigation was helpful.

Quoting police founder Robert Peel, he said: “The police are the public and the public are the police.

“It is absolutely true that everyone is innocent until proven guilty and the process to investigate Sheku’s death should be absolutely fair, open and transparent.

“Police officers are very frustrated by the statements in the press.”

Mr Hamilton urged anyone with evidence of an organisation or individuals leaking information to the press, to come forward.

Mr Mair said he bore no malice to CI Hamilton.

“I had a duty to raise the questions I asked. CI Hamilton has responded with fine words,” he commented.

“If Police Scotland can live up the expectations he has raised, I am hopeful of some satisfaction for the family and friends of Sheku.”