Sheku Bayoh inquiry 'will have in the region of 50,000 documents to scrutinise'

An independent public inquiry into the death of a man who was restrained by police will have to scrutinise around 50,000 documents, it is believed.

Sheku Bayoh died in May 2015 while being held by officers who were responding to a call in Kirkcaldy, Fife.

The 31-year-old's family claimed race played a part in his death and they criticised the subsequent investigation.

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Lord Bracadale, retired senator of the College of Justice, will lead the inquiry, with Michael Fuller and Raju Bhatt as assessors to support him.

In an opening statement published on the inquiry website https://www.shekubayohinquiry.scot/ he said: "It has now been over five years since the death of Mr Bayoh and I, and my

team, are conscious of the length of time this has hung over all involved, particularly the Bayoh family.

"We will work with determination and focus to ensure the work can be completed as quickly as possible.

"It is, however, at this stage impossible to say how long the inquiry will take.

"Preliminary discussions with some of the organisations involved lead us to believe that we will have in the region of 50,000 documents to scrutinise.”

He added: "After we have considered all the documentary evidence and conducted further investigation, the inquiry will hold public hearings where we will call witnesses to give

evidence.”

The inquiry was announced last November by Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf with its scope determined in May this year.

On Thursday, he 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 inquiry will examine the circumstances leading up to the death of Mr Bayoh, the post-incident management process and subsequent investigation.

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

A statement from lawyer Aamer Anwar, on behalf of Mr Bayoh's family and his partner Collette Bell, welcomed the opening statement.

He said: "Fighting for a proper investigation, never mind achieving meaningful change, has involved the Bayohs in enormous challenges and obstacles at great personal cost to the

emotional and physical health of their family, young and old.

"Kadie Johnson, Sheku's sister, has no doubt that the way he or her family were treated by the police and the justice system would not have happened had Sheku been white.

Their treatment was compounded by repeated attacks from those who appear to remain in a 'child-like' denial about the existence of racism in policing today.

"In his death Sheku was smeared, vilified and criminalised in order to negate his right to life, so as the inquiry begins, we should never forget that Sheku Bayoh was a 31-year-old

black man, with no previous history of violence. He was a loving father, partner, son and brother who died in police custody.

"But in the end, the real test of this inquiry will not be the sympathy expressed for a family who have conducted themselves throughout with utmost dignity, but whether this country

acts to ensure that real change takes place in an unaccountable, all-powerful justice system."

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