London

Sean Rigg death probe officer's resignation halted

  • 30 May 2014
  • From the section London
PC Andrew Birks
Image caption PC Andrew Birks was due to step down on 1 June

The Metropolitan Police has reversed its decision to allow an officer facing investigation over a death in custody to leave the force.

Senior arresting officer PC Andrew Birks, who was involved in the detention of Sean Rigg in 2008 in south London, was set to quit on Sunday.

It comes after the police watchdog urged the Met to stop the resignation.

The Met said PC Birks had been suspended "in the interests of allowing a full reinvestigation".

'Relieved' at reversal

Sean Rigg, 40, who had schizophrenia, died at Brixton police station in August 2008 after being restrained following an attack on a man in Balham. He died from cardiac arrest.

Following the force's U-turn, Mr Rigg's sister Marcia said: "The Rigg family is relieved that the commissioner has seen sense to suspend PC Birks and reverse his resignation, so that he can face disciplinary investigations, and possible gross misconduct charges depending on what is found."

IPCC commissioner Mary Cunneen said: "Our investigation is progressing and we continue to seek to serve a notice of investigation on the officer, and are making arrangements to serve notices on other officers involved in the arrest, restraint and detention of Mr Rigg."

When the officer's resignation was initially accepted, Mr Rigg's family said they were "livid" and said would take legal action if he was allowed to quit.

Image caption Sean Rigg died from cardiac arrest at Brixton police station in 2008

The Met said it had reconsidered its position after being informed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission that it wanted to serve a notice of investigation on the officer.

In a statement the force said: "This is a unique set of circumstances. In light of the public interest in this case, the need for public confidence in the accountability of police officers and in the interests of allowing a full reinvestigation to be most effectively carried out, the MPS has now suspended the officer.

"Following the suspension of the officer the MPS has reconsidered his resignation request and the Deputy Commissioner has decided to rescind his resignation.

"The officer has given assurances, via his legal representative, that he would fully cooperate with any new investigation by the IPCC."

Marcia Rigg added: "Our family now calls on the government to change the law so that other families do not have to threaten court action to stop officers resigning to avoid being held to account."

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