Sheku Bayoh family lawyer criticises PIRC before meeting

Kate Frame

The lawyer acting for the family of Sheku Bayoh, who was killed in police custody in May, has criticised thePolice Investigations and Review Commissioner(PIRC) and its powers ahead of a meeting this morning.

Mr Bayoh’s relatives and solicitor Aamer Anwar met with commissioner Kate Frame  this morning to discuss the 31-year old’s death in Kirkcaldy.

It follows a meeting with Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC last week.

Ahead of today’s meeting, Mr Anwar said: “It is clear to the family that PIRC has failed to use the powers it has to hold Police Scotland to account.

“Over 17 weeks PIRC has been responsible for the rapid breakdown in confidence held in them by Sheku Bayoh’s family.

“Whilst 53 separate points of concerns were raised in a letter to the commissioner on July 31, 2015, the family felt her response was dismissive; those concerns were subsequently taken up by the Lord Advocate.

“The Scottish government has announced a national review into Police Scotland, but the family feels that unless the police watchdog PIRC is truly independent and armed with increased powers then any exercise into police accountability will be one of fruitless window dressing.”

Mr Anwar’s remarks come months after he called for government action to extend the powers of the PIRC, which he said were not on par with its English counterpart.

The call was rejected by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson.

Mr Anwar added: “The family welcome the opportunity to discuss their concerns with the commissioner.”

Ms Frame said earlier: “I fully recognise the family’s need for a clear understanding of what caused Sheku Bayoh’s death, and despite the fact that the post-mortem conducted shortly after his death was inconclusive, I remain committed to thoroughly investigating all lines of enquiry.”