Sheku Bayoh: Death in custody inquiry to begin next week

Image caption,
Sheku Bayoh died in police custody in Fife in 2015

A public inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh in police custody in Fife is to begin on Monday, the Scottish government has announced.

The 31-year-old, who was originally from Sierra Leone, died after being restrained by six police officers in a Kirkcaldy street in 2015.

The inquiry will look at the circumstances before Mr Bayoh's death and the subsequent investigation.

It will also examine whether race played a part in events.

The inquiry will be led by retired senior judge, Lord Bracadale

Former Kent Police Chief Constable Michael Fuller and lawyer Raju Bhatt have also been appointed as "assessors" to support Lord Bracadale in the inquiry.

The government said they would offer their knowledge and experience on race and diversity issues, during the preparation, oral hearings, decision-making and report writing phases.

An opening statement will be made by Lord Bracadale on the inquiry's website when it goes live at 09:00 on Monday.

Image caption,
Lord Bracadale will lead the inquiry

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: "The family of Mr Bayoh have shown remarkable dignity and perseverance during their five-year wait for an inquiry into the death of Sheku.

"I hope that today's announcement gives them comfort and reassurance that the circumstances surrounding his death will be examined in a public and transparent manner."

The justice secretary said that he had worked closely with Lord Bracadale to select assessors Michael Fuller and Raju Bhatt.

He added: "The formal start of the inquiry is a key milestone and I am confident the assessors will ably assist the chair to consider issues relevant to the terms of reference."

'Important milestone'

The inquiry's remit includes the circumstances leading up to the death of Mr Bayoh, the post-incident management process and subsequent investigation, Mr Yousaf said.

He added: "The inquiry will also establish the extent to which Mr Bayoh's actual or perceived race played a part in events, if any."

During his time in the Metropolitan Police, Mr Fuller helped set up the Racial and Violent Crime Task Force and drew up the force's action plan to address institutional racism following the Stephen Lawrence's murder.

Raju Bhatt, a lawyer specialising in working with families who have lost a loved one through a death in custody, has previously advised the UK government on human rights and was part of the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

Lawyer Aamer Anwar, representing Mr Bayoh's partner and his family, said: "Today's announcement is an important milestone for the family and the appointment of the two assessors, with highly respected judge Lord Bracadale as chair fills the family with hope."