Finnie urges public inquiry into Sheku Bayoh case

Scottish Greens justice spokesperson John Finnie MSP today (3 Oct) urged Scottish Ministers to set up a public inquiry into the Sheku Bayoh case, after the family was told that no criminal charges will be brought.

31-year-old Mr Bayoh died after being restrained by police who were called to reports of a man behaving erratically and brandishing a knife in the street in Kirkcaldy in May 2015.

Following the incident, John Finnie wrote to Scottish Ministers to ask whether the Police and Investigation Review Commissioner (PIRC) had the relevant powers to properly investigate such incidents.

In light of today’s meeting between the Bayoh family and the Lord Advocate, Mr Finnie said:

“The death of anyone the police have direct dealings with should be the subject of a Fatal Accident Inquiry and it would exceptional, and entirely unacceptable, were one not to take place into the tragedy that is Mr Bayoh’s untimely death. It is for the Lord Advocate, as the head of Scotland’s prosecution service, to determine whether criminal prosecutions should result from any particular death and of course the family have time in which to consider whether to appeal today’s decision.

“The family quite rightly looked to the Police and Investigation Review Commissioner (PIRC) to lead the investigation and provide independence from the police. The PIRC has only been in place for the last five years and fortunately deaths as rare - however, it
is worrying that they didn’t receive the fullest cooperation from all those involved.

“No-one is above the law; however, everyone, including police officers, must have the right not to self-incriminate and procedures should be robust enough to ensure that basic right. Of course, the right to life is fundamental to us all and, regardless of whether there are to be criminal prosecutions, misconduct proceedings or a Fatal Accident Inquiry it’s important that Scotland shows the value it places on a life.

“The Scottish Green Party have always supported a thorough investigation of the circumstances leading to Mr Bayoh’s death such as the family’s request for a full judicial public inquiry under the Inquiries Act to be ordered by the Justice Secretary. There are wider considerations which go beyond this case that must be fully understood. Our thoughts are with Mr Bayoh’s family and friends.”