STATEMENT ISSUED BY AAMER ANWAR SOLICITOR ON BEHALF OF THE SHEKU BAYOH FAMILY FOLLOWING THEIR MEETING WITH THE LORD ADVOCATE AT CROWN OFFICE THIS AFTERNOON 26th August 2015
When the Lord Advocate met with the Bayoh family on the 14th May, they put their trust in his promise to ensure a robust, independent and transparent inquiry. After today’s meeting they believe that he is determined to do so.
Today the family informed the Lord Advocate, that 16 weeks after the death of Sheku Bayoh in police custody they have lost confidence in the PIRC investigation.
An interim report was delivered to the Lord Advocate on the 7th August 2015.
Sheku Bayoh’s family are grateful to the Lord Advocate for what was a very robust and honest meeting. The family told the Lord Advocate that they do not believe the PIRC have shown they have the necessary expertise to deal with this investigation.
The family expressed grave reservations as to the PIRC’s impartiality or robustness and believe that PIRC have failed to use their powers to hold police officers to account.
Many of the concerns raised today were addressed by the Lord Advocate, whilst other matters will form the basis of further inquiries. It is unlikely that the final report will be completed for several weeks if not several months.
The Bayoh family have stated from day one that Sheku acted out of character and that if he broke the law then the police had a right to act, but he did not deserve to die.
Sheku Bayoh’s family have instructed some of the country’s leading pathologists and a legal team for a reason, to ensure that they are not taken for fools and patronised.
The family’s own legal team have uncovered matters of serious concern that have been referred to the Chief Constable for investigation.
The Bayoh family now have a pretty accurate account of what happened, but chose not to release a great deal of information into the public domain so as not to prejudice any potential criminal proceedings but also because of their faith in the Lord Advocate’s team.
Crown Office will appreciate with recent tragic events in Scotland, that they can no longer expect families of victims to be silent parties, nor will they be taken for granted. The Lord Advocate retains the confidence of the Bayoh family as he promised them that their voices would be heard.
They are entitled by law to expect there to be a robust, transparent and impartial investigation, which holds the police to account where they have failed.
What we do know is that Sheku Bayoh weighed 12 stones 10 pounds, he was 5ft 10 inches but he was brought to the ground within a minute of the first police contact, never to get up again.
Eight police officers were involved in his restraint. He was handcuffed, shackled with leg and ankle restraints, a minute later he stopped breathing, an hour and a half later he was pronounced dead.
Sheku Bayoh’s family has desperately tried to keep an open mind, but now believe those investigating the death have not.
There has been much speculation about the cause of death, which is still to be determined. The possibility of positional asphyxiation didn’t come from the family but came directly from the Crown.
The family is concerned that the investigation has focused all of its energy on everything apart from what the Police did to restrain Sheku Bayoh.
Relevant CCTV footage has been secured, including mobile phone footage from civilians. The family has requested the Lord Advocate release the CCTV footage of Sheku’s final moments to stop the poisonous and systematic leaking of material to the media by police sources.
The Lord Advocate was left under no illusions that the Bayoh family do not see a Fatal Accident Inquiry as a panacea for all the problems that Police Scotland face, there are many other options that must be considered and ruthlessly investigated first.
Certain parties may wish to concentrate on everything apart from what happened to Sheku Bayoh, but when officers armed with CS, pepper spray, batons and handcuffs and restraints, try to subdue someone by force and that person dies. The number one question is whether their actions resulted in that death.
The family have heard much about a police woman’s injuries and the family has sympathy for her, but it was the PIRC who declared publicly that she was discharged shortly after her attendance at hospital, whilst Sheku Bayoh who suffered multiple injuries, was pronounced dead in that hospital.
There has been much talk of a violent confrontation but zero information about any serious physical injuries suffered by nine police officers.
The female constable was able to join her eight colleagues at the local police station that morning and the family still have no answers as why they were kept in one room at the police station, able to speak to each other for several hours whilst refusing to speak to their senior officers or the PIRC for 32 days.
Colette Bell wishes to say “I believe that if the police hadn’t treated my Sheku the way they did, he would be here today, I am fed up of the lies and the attempt to blame Sheku for his own death.”
The question asked of the Lord Advocate today was- If the restraint of Sheku Bayoh had been carried out by eight civilians, would they have been allowed to walk the streets? Would his death have been treated as a crime? and would the civilians responsible for the restraint been treated as suspects rather than as witnesses?
The Bayoh family expect the Lord Advocate to leave no stone unturned in the search for the truth. They retain faith in his ability to do so, but that that faith is not blind.