Sean Rigg custody death officer quits Metropolitan Police

PC Andrew Birks PC Andrew Birks is set to step down on 1 June

Related Stories

The police watchdog has urged the Metropolitan Police to stop an officer quitting so he can face misconduct proceedings after a death in custody.

Senior arresting officer PC Andrew Birks is set to step down on Sunday.

The family of Sean Rigg, who died at Brixton police station in 2008 after being restrained, said they were "livid" about his resignation.

The Metropolitan Police said it was considering the Independent Police Complaints Commission's (IPCC) request.

The force added that until a decision was made it would be inappropriate to comment.

'Refuse' resignation

Mr Rigg, 40, who had schizophrenia, was arrested in Balham and taken to Brixton police station in August 2008 after attacking a man. He died at the station after a suffering a cardiac arrest.

The police watchdog's demand that Scotland Yard halts the resignation is highly unusual.

Sometimes police inform the IPCC if they think an officer who has faced investigation is considering departing - but in the case of PC Birks, neither the watchdog nor Sean Rigg's family saw this coming.

If the commissioner doesn't agree to stop the officer leaving, the only realistic option open to the family or IPCC would be to seek an emergency court order on Friday to allow a judge time to review whether the Met has acted lawfully.

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Theresa May has separately pledged to stop officers who are facing scrutiny from resigning because she thinks that it damages public trust in the police.

Campaigners supporting that move say this is precisely the kind of departure that the home secretary must end.

An inquest into his death in 2012 heard the arresting officers restrained him for several minutes on the ground before taking him to the police station. It concluded that the officers had used "unsuitable force".

In April, the IPCC investigated evidence from the inquest and gave its findings to the CPS. The inquiry relates to two officers.

On 13 May, the High Court gave the watchdog permission to begin new disciplinary investigations.

But on 19 May, before the IPCC was able to serve formal notices of investigation, the Met told the watchdog that PC Birks would be leaving the force, which was accepted by the Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.

In a statement, the IPCC said it had asked the Met to suspend the officer before his employment ends.

IPCC Commissioner Mary Cunneen said: "I am extremely disappointed that the Metropolitan Police Service did not notify the IPCC at the earliest opportunity that this officer was intending to leave the force with its approval.

"I have today written to the MPS to invite them, given the clear public interest in this case, to consider suspending the officer ahead of his departure taking effect and to then go on to refuse to allow him to leave.

"While the IPCC cannot prevent an officer leaving a force, we believe that it is unacceptable that officers can be allowed to do so and avoid the possibility of facing disciplinary proceedings."

'Extremely alarmed'

Sean Rigg's sister, Marcia Rigg, demanded Sir Bernard withdraw his acceptance.

Sean Rigg Sean Rigg died from cardiac arrest

She said: "The family of Sean Rigg is livid to say the least to learn that PC Andrew Birks, one of the arresting officers who was involved in the death of our beloved brother, Sean, has recently had his resignation accepted by the Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, to take effect on 1 June 2014 unless reversed.

"There is no doubt in our minds that this decision by PC Birks was taken to avoid the risk of him being held accountable for his conduct towards Sean on 21 August 2008 and acquiring a disciplinary record, possibly for gross misconduct.

She said if the resignation was allowed it would "destroy public confidence in the police complaints system".

Deborah Coles, from the charity Inquest, said: "This is not an isolated case but part of a systemic problem that allows the police to remain above the law."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC London



11 °C 3 °C

BBC Local Live

    10:44: London rail tunnel flood

    Flooding from a burst water main in a tunnel has left the Thameslink rail operator unable to run any trains in London until the problem is fixed.

    Clerkenwell tunnel

    About 50,000 litres of water poured into the tunnel between St Pancras and Farringdon on Friday.

    10:24: South London 'burglar jailed'

    A prolific burglar who committed more than 30 burglaries across south London and Surrey was jailed for five years on Friday, the News Shopper reports.

    10:12: FA Cup action Murray Burnell BBC London 94.9

    What a weekend of FA Cup football, with Chelsea, Manchester City and Spurs going out.

    Arsenal are through after a 3-2 win at Championship side Brighton - Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Tomasz Rosicky scored the goals.

    Theo Walcott
    10:00: News on the hour BBC London 94.9 Radio

    At 10:00, the top headline is: A care agency in East London took hundreds of pounds from low-paid carers who were desperate for work.

    Listen to BBC London 94.9.

    09:51: Londoners 'having to share rooms' London Evening Standard Newspaper

    An increasing number of Londoners are being forced to share rooms with strangers as they cannot afford rent in the capital, the Evening Standard reports.

    09:40: Have your say

    What do you think of BBC Local Live? We'd like your feedback about this service.

    09:27: Double-stabbing in Kensington

    Two men are in hospital with injuries, one of them critical, after a stabbing in Kensington, west London. in the early hours of this morning.

    09:18: Australia Day BBC London News TV

    Today, on Australia Day, Australian paramedics recruited to work for London Ambulance Service will begin their first shifts in the capital. About 175 are joining the service. Watch BBC London News at 13:30 for more.

    Two tennis fans wear colourful hats and glasses as part of Australia Day celebrations in Melbourne on 26 January, 2015
    09:09: 'Profiteering' boss took carers' cash Ed Davey BBC London News

    A "profiteering" care agency took hundreds of pounds from low-paid carers who were desperate for work, a BBC London investigation has found.

    Alleged victims

    HCA Professionals, based in Barking, east London, promised carers jobs if they paid for unnecessary and "highly unprofessional" training.

    The company, run by Chris Rigland, denies all wrongdoing.

    09:00: News on the hour BBC London 94.9 Radio

    At 09:00, the top headline is: Half of Londoners say police don't have a visible presence on their streets.

    Listen to BBC London 94.9.

    08:57: Vanessa Feltz show BBC London News TV

    Thousands of people have been celebrating on the streets of Athens after a left wing party promising an end to austerity won the Greek election.

    How will this affect London? More with Vanessa from 09:00.

    08:51: Kensington Mall stabbing

    Police were called at 03:30 this morning to Kensington Mall, near Notting Hill Gate station, where they found a man who had been stabbed. They found a second man with stab injuries in Royston Court.

    Both men are in their mid-20s and have been taken to hospital. One is in a serious condition and one critical.

    08:44: Flooding hits rail services

    Flooding in the tunnel between Farringdon and St Pancras International is affecting Thameslink rail services in London.

    crowds of commuters at St Pancras.

    Thanks to Darren Ruback for sending us these photos of the crowds of commuters at St Pancras.

    08:34: Woolwich fire

    London Ambulance Service was on standby at the fire in Woolwich earlier and tweeted this picture. It was reported as put out just before 08:00.

    Fire in Woolwich

    About 40 firefighters tackled the fire from about 03:00 in Ramac Way.

    08:25: TV headlines BBC London News TV

    The headlines on BBC London this morning include:

    • Figures from the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, show that nearly half of Londoners feel that the Metropolitan police are not visible enough in their area.
    • The first team of Australian paramedics start its shift at the London Ambulance Service this morning, after recently arriving from Australia to fill some of the hundreds of NHS vacancies in London.
    Asad Ahmad
    08:20: Killer accused found hanged in jail

    A man currently on trial for the murder of two pensioners has been found dead in his prison cell.

    Leo Barnes was accused of murdering Cynthia Beamond, from Halesowen, and Philip Silverstone, of London, on consecutive days in June last year.

    08:09: St Pancras problems Louise Pepper Journalist, BBC London

    Trains are suspended on Thameslink between St Pancras International and Blackfriars and there's a reduced service on the rest of the Thameslink network due to flooding between St Pancras International and Farringdon.

    08:05: Rain then sunshine

    Outbreaks of rain will clear away southeastwards by midday from Kent. Dry conditions will follow, along with falling temperatures, despite the sunny conditions that develop. Maximum 11C (52F).

    Day's weather
    08:00: Good morning Andy Dangerfield BBC News Online

    Welcome to Monday. I'll be bringing you all the latest news, sport, travel and weather today.

    You can email me your comments about the stories of the day or send photos or tweet @BBCLondonNews.



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.