Families of men who died in custody deliver letter to Bute House

The families of two men who died in custody have delivered a letter to the First Minister’s residence in Edinburgh, as they requested a meeting with her and the Justice Secretary.

Allan Marshall and Sheku Bayoh both died in custody in 2015.

Mr Marshall, 30, was being held on remand at HMP Edinburgh in March 2015 when he suffered a cardiac arrest during a lengthy struggle with staff.

Later that year, in May, 31-year-old Mr Bayoh died after he was restrained by nine police officers in Kirkcaldy.

Family members of Sheku Bayoh and Allan Marshall at a vigil
Allan Marshall’s aunt Sharon Macfadyen and Sheku Bayoh’s eldest sister Kosna Bayoh delivered the letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Bute House in Edinburgh (John Linton/PA)

A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) found that Mr Marshall’s death was “entirely preventable”, while Mr Bayoh’s is currently subject to a public inquiry.

The two families came together on Saturday to hold a remembrance vigil outside the First Minister’s Bute House residence, where Mr Marshall’s family announced that they have requested a review of his case by the Lord Advocate.

Demands were detailed in the families’ letter, including a meeting with Nicola Sturgeon and Justice Secretary Keith Brown to discuss concerns over the current system and the handling of both men’s cases.

Mr Bayoh’s family said that their vulnerability in the aftermath of his death was acknowledged, and called for the system to “look after the real victims – those who have lost their loved ones”.

The family of Mr Marshall called for FAIs to be abolished, writing that the system “does not serve the families, but only gives false hope”.

They issued a public appeal for other families affected by a death in custody to come forward and join the campaign.

Sharon Macfadyen, Mr Marshall’s aunt, said: “We have asked the Lord Advocate to review Allan’s case and we are confident of a positive outcome.

“We have always felt it is obvious to anyone who has seen the CCTV of the restraint what happened to Allan and why he died, so we are looking forward to hearing what the Crown has concluded after finally looking properly into all the evidence.

Sheku Bayoh remembrance vigil
Allan Marshall’s aunt Sharon McFadyen holding his nephew Kieran Marshall before delivering a letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Bute House (John Linton/PA)

“Today is about standing with other families and saying no more. No other family should go through what we’ve been through for the last seven years.”

Ade Johnson, Mr Bayoh’s brother-in-law, said: “Let us not forget who the real victims are in this process for justice. They are the families that have lost their loved ones.”

The vigil coincided with remembrance events in London, and was organised by the United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC), a UK-wide coalition of families affected by deaths in custody.

Ken Fero, of UFFC, said: “Public awareness of injustice after the killing of George Floyd has also raised the profile of the killings of people in the UK by police and prison officers.

“These deaths are just as brutal, just as harrowing, just as illegal. The only difference here is that families seldom get officers to trial as happened in the Floyd case.

“This UFFC initiative in Scotland highlights how Scottish families that have been impacted by state violence are coming together to demand justice and justice is not limited to the confines of the courts.”