Sheku Bayoh's family urge inquiry to examine why cops weren't prosecuted after Kate Forbes meeting

The family of Sheku Bayoh have called for the public inquiry into the 31-year-old’s death to be allowed to examine why police were not prosecuted after the incident.

Speaking after a meeting with Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, the family’s lawyer Aamar Anwar said charges have not been brought against any of the officers involved, and that it is “unacceptable that the guardians of law and order should escape scrutiny”.

He said the family told Forbes of their “anger and upset” that Police Scotland appear to be rowing back from recognising the existence of institutional racism within the force, and they called for “meaningful change” to follow the completion of the Sheku Bayoh inquiry.

Mr Bayoh, a father-of-two, died after he was restrained on the ground by six police officers in Kirkcaldy, Fife, on May 3, 2015 and the public inquiry into his death is currently ongoing.

Mr Anwar said: “The family let the Deputy First Minister know of their anger and upset that Police Scotland appear now determined to turn back the clock on the radical statement of former chief constable Iain Livingstone in accepting institutional racism.

“The family call for a commitment by the Government for meaningful change at the end of this inquiry to let no institution stand in the way of the form of legal and regulatory change required.”

In May 2023, outgoing chief constable Sir Iain admitted Police Scotland was “institutionally racist and discriminatory”, and said acknowledging the issue was essential to it becoming “an anti-racist service”.

Mr Anwar also called for the inquiry to be allowed to examine why police were not prosecuted following Mr Bayoh’s death.

“The family called on the Government to review its terms of reference for the Sheku Bayoh public inquiry to allow the inquiry to consider why the Crown Office did not prosecute any of the police officers or Police Scotland,” he said.

Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes met with Sheku Bayoh's family
Aamer Anwar and Sheku Bayoh’s family.

“It is unacceptable that the guardians of law and order should escape scrutiny by hiding behind claims of the need to be independent when all they have done is betray justice.

“There wasn’t a single, not a charge of culpable homicide, not a charge of serious assault, assault with severe injury, minor assault, attempt to pervert the course of justice, not a single charge.”

When it was pointed out that it is unusual for the terms of reference of an inquiry to be changed mid-inquiry, he said “They were changed in the Covid inquiry, they were changed in other inquiries, and can be changed going along.

“Issues have arisen at the inquiry during the process, and it’s an artificial divide in that the inquiry can’t go beyond the terms of reference.”

Ms Forbes said after the meeting: “It was humbling to meet the family of Mr Bayoh and I welcomed the opportunity to hear from them directly.

“The Scottish Government remains firmly committed to the public inquiry establishing the facts surrounding the circumstances leading to Mr Bayoh’s death. The family expect answers and I believe these proceedings are the best way to give them that.

“The public inquiry is independent of Scottish ministers so it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on proceedings.”

Police Scotland have been contacted for comment.

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