Mass vigil to be held at public inquiry into death of Sheku Bayoh

The event takes place as the inquiry prepares to examine whether race was a factor in Bayoh's death in Kirkcaldy more than nine years ago.

Mass vigil to be held at public inquiry into death of Sheku Bayoh at Capital House in Edinburgh STV News

A mass vigil for Sheku Bayoh will be held at the ongoing public inquiry into his death on Thursday.

Organised by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), the vigil will take place at Capital House in Edinburgh as the inquiry prepares to examine race – amid calls for a “more racially-inclusive, fairer and safe society” in Scotland.

Members of Mr Bayoh’s family and the STUC will attend the vigil. Short speeches are expected from family members at around 9am ahead of the inquiry session getting under way.

Mr Bayoh, 31, a father-of-two, died after he was restrained on the ground by six police officers in Kirkcaldy, Fife, on May 3, 2015 after being arrested when he was high on drugs.

The Sheku Bayoh inquiry began two years ago and is examining the circumstances leading to his death, and the aftermath and investigation.

It has focused on the actions of Police Scotland, the Crown Office and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc), and is due to conclude at the end of the year, with a report expected to be published in 2025 – a decade on from his death.

Earlier this week, comedian Frankie Boyle, writer Val McDermid and SubClub resident DJ Telford were among 76 artists, performers and writers who backed a statement calling for a “more racially-inclusive, fairer and safe society” as a result of the inquiry.

Speaking on behalf of the Bayoh family, solicitor Aamer Anwar said: “The Sheku Bayoh family placed their faith in the Crown Office to fearlessly investigate the death in custody of Sheku. 

“His family had the right to expect there would be a robust, transparent and impartial investigation. It’s all very well for former Lord Advocate James Wolffe KC, like other senior lawyers & investigators now plead ‘with the benefit of hindsight’, 

Yet on Mr. Wolffe’s watch, his Crown Office is accused of cynically manipulating events, abusing the human rights of the Sheku’s family and obstructing their search for truth.

“As the critical chapter examining the role of race in Sheku’s death began this week, the Bayoh family after two years of evidence feel vindicated, they always knew the Crown and PIRC failed to investigate race, ignored evidence of racism, presented the wrong facts and then failed to prosecute. 

“The Bayoh family hold the Crown Office ultimately responsible for the betrayal of justice and presiding over a culture of incompetence, denial, secrecy, bias and institutional racism.

“The failure to investigate racism was described as a ‘missed opportunity’, but it was much more, it was deliberate, cynical and deja vu on an industrial scale.”

A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “Day in and day out, Scotland’s prosecutors fulfil their responsibilities with professionalism and skill.

“They take hard decisions and do so independently, rigorously and in accordance with the evidence. They secure the public interest in the fair and effective administration of criminal justice in Scotland.

“The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service is fully supportive of the inquiry and does not consider it appropriate to comment on the evidence led at the Inquiry whilst it is ongoing.

“Further Crown evidence will be heard in due course.”

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