EMBATTLED Chief Constable Stephen House was facing more pressure last night as two SNP politicians pushed for a meeting with the Justice Secretary over Police Scotland’s handling of the case of Sheku Bayoh.

The father-of-two died on May 3 after being restrained by several officers who responded to a call out in a Kirkcaldy street. His death is the subject of an inquiry by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC). Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Roger Mullin, and his Holyrood colleague David Torrance, the MSP for Kirkcaldy, want to discuss the case – and other concerns about the single police force – with Michael Matheson.

Their call followed a letter sent to Mullin by a deputy chief constable in response to a letter Mullin had sent House asking for a meeting with him and the Bayoh family over the way they had been treated. Mullin wrote to House on July 20, but only received a reply three weeks later from Deputy Chief Constable (designate) Neil Richardson, turning down the request. Although the letter was dated July 30, it was posted second class on August 5, and received two days later.

“I find it unacceptable that Police Scotland have taken so long to respond to an urgent request from me for a meeting regarding their dealings with the Sheku Bayoh family,” Mullin told The National.

“I was made aware in July through contact that a member of the Police Federation had made with a fellow MP that it would be unlikely that the Chief Constable would agree to a meeting.

“That such comments were circulating well before I received the courtesy of a reply I think is an unfortunate way to conduct business.”

He added: “I think the fact they sent a letter of so-called explanation that suggests they have an inability to read the short letter I sent them in the first place is not encouraging. And it adds to the sense of this is being very badly managed by the police.

“It strikes me as an inappropriate way of dealing with people. I feel this is a very dismissive way to deal with a reasonable request and I find it totally unacceptable and inappropriate.”

Aamer Anwar, the Glasgow lawyer who is representing the Bayoh family, said he could not understand why House thought it inappropriate to meet the family because it may “jeopardise the outcome of the PIRC investigation”. Yet, he said he was willing to meet with the police officers were involved in the case.

In a letter to House last night, he wrote: “Can you advise why you consider it acceptable to meet eight police officers collectively and another in her home, but claim that meeting the Bayoh family who had absolutely no involvement in Mr Bayoh’s death could ‘potentially jeopardise the outcome of a PIRC investigation’?”

Anwar said he was making a freedom of information (FoI) request to have the question answered, along with several others.

Anwar told The National:

“Police Scotland… seems to be going from one disaster to the other and not restoring public confidence. They need to be held to account.”

He added: “The Chief Constable is an irrelevance at this time – the issue is Police Scotland and the question of accountability and transparency. They can’t continually fob off members of the public with stock responses or simply not answering. We’re still waiting for answers to the family’s questions. They’ve been treated disrespectfully with no response from the Chief Constable to say when he’ll meet them.”

Deputy Chief Constable Neil Richardson said in a statement: “We had written to Mr Mullin to explain the reasons we were not able to meet at this time given the ongoing inquiry and followed this up in a telephone conversation yesterday.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have received the invitation from Mr Mullin and Mr Torrance and the Cabinet Secretary will respond to this in due course.”