London

Sean Rigg custody death: Met directed to begin hearings

Sean Rigg Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Sean Rigg died while in police custody in 2008

The police watchdog has directed the Met Police to begin gross misconduct hearings against five officers over the custody death of a mentally ill man.

Sean Rigg, who had schizophrenia, died from cardiac arrest at Brixton police station in August 2008 after being restrained by officers.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said officers should face hearings over their actions.

Mr Rigg's sister said she and her family "welcomed" the IOPC's decision.

"We hope that the hearings will take place as soon as possible and provide some much-needed accountability," Marcia Rigg-Samuel said.

IOPC regional director Sarah Green said she had last month directed the Met to bring gross misconduct hearings against five officers over "allegations relating to their actions on the day Mr Rigg was arrested".

She said she also told the force in February to bring hearings against two of those officers over "allegations they knowingly misled an inquest" into Mr Rigg's death.

Image caption Andrew Birks was ordained as a Church of England priest last year

The decision was made public after a High Court judge ordered the Met to reconsider its refusal to allow one of the officers to resign.

Andrew Birks - who was the senior officer involved and ordained as a Church of England priest last year - had been suspended with pay during the IOPC investigation and blocked from resigning on the grounds he could avoid any potential disciplinary proceedings.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Garnham said the decision was "extraordinary and indefensible" because it prevented him from fully pursuing his life as a priest.

He ordered that the disciplinary process against PC Birks is put on hold pending reconsideration of his decision by Scotland Yard.

PC Birks said he was delighted by the ruling and hoped "for a balanced, fair and independent review of my suspension by the Metropolitan Police".

In a statement, Scotland Yard said it had "received the judgement" and would "now fully examine the content and give fresh consideration to the decision as to whether or not to suspend the officer".

The force has not yet commented on the IOPC's announcement that it had directed for hearings to begin.

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