Scottish police may face prosecution over death of Sierra Leonean – Sheku Bayoh

Culled from the Scottish Herald

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 February 2016

Scottish Police

A new investigation into Police Scotland over the death of a man in custody is being considered by prosecutors.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said it has entered talks with the Health and Safety Executive over the case of Sheku Bayoh, 31, who died after being detained by officers called to an incident in Kirkcaldy, Fife, last year.

It is the first stage of a potential fresh inquiry into the death of the Sierra Leone national who had set up home in Scotland.

The father-of-two’s death is already being investigated by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC).

His family have been calling for answers over police conduct and Mr Bayoh’s cause of death on May 3, 2015, and are understood to have been encouraged by the possible new investigation.

Nicola_SturgeonThey have previously met First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Photo), Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC and former Police Scotland chief constable Sir Stephen House to discuss the case.

Aamer Anwar, the family’s lawyer, above, centre, said that he believes “there are grounds and it is a possibility” of a prosecution under health and safety legislation.

The fact that the Crown Office and Health and Safety Executive have liaised over the case is seen as a potentially significant step that could lead to the prosecution of Police Scotland if any fault is found.

A Crown Office source confirmed there have been “some preliminary discussions between ourselves and HSE regarding this case”.

Police Scotland said officers were unable to comment in detail over the case as it is ongoing.

sheku bayoh2Kate Thomson, assistant chief constable, said: “Due to the ongoing independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Sheku Bayoh’s death currently being carried out by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner it remains inappropriate for us to comment at this time.

“Whilst we await the conclusion of the investigation I wish to offer our continued condolences to Sheku’s family.”

A spokesman for PIRC said: “The investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Sheku Bayoh in Kirkcaldy on Sunday May 3 is ongoing.

“A report will be submitted to the Lord Advocate in due course.

“It would be inappropriate to go into further details during a live investigation.”

Mr Mulholland, below, received an interim report into the circumstances surrounding the death from PIRC in August.

A spokesman for HSE said: “We can confirm that there have been early discussions with COPFS.”

It is not clear at this stage what aspect of health and safety laws would be applied.

The Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 section seven states: “It shall be the duty of every employee while at work to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work.

“As regards any duty or requirement imposed on his employer or any other person by or under any of the relevant statutory provisions, to co-operate with him so far as is necessary to enable that duty or requirement to be performed or complied with.”

Cases under HSE law south of the Border have been raised when members of the public and police staff have been alleged to have been put at risk.

In 2007 the Metropolitan Police force was found guilty of endangering the public over the fatal shooting of a man officers mistook for a suicide bomber.

The force broke health and safety laws when officers pursued to a Tube station and shot him seven times, a jury found.

It was fined £175,000 with £385,000 costs over the 2005 shooting.

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