THE lawyer for the family of Sheku Bayoh, who died after being restrained by up to nine Police Scotland officers in Kirkcaldy in May 2015, has demanded an apology and a robust investigation from the Lord Advocate after a leak about possible charges against the officers.
Aamer Anwar told the Sunday National of the “utter distress” the leak had caused to Collette Bell, Bayoh’s partner and his sister Kadi 
The family will meet with James Wolffe QC on Wednesday to hear first-hand whether any officers will be charged in the long-running case, but the leak last weekend suggested none will be.

READ MORE: Sheku's sister, Kadi: 'He was smeared, we were told to keep silent'

He said: “I’m not going to prejudge what the Lord Advocate has decided but it is an absolute disgrace that an internal decision made within his office was leaked to a newspaper.

“I have a great deal of respect for the Crown Office but last weekend was horrific.
“It tore the family on pieces to wake up on that Sunday morning to have their phone ringing off the hook, to have journalists turning up outside Collette’s front door, to have to go to a shop to buy the paper to see for themselves. 

“It’s been heartbreaking and it is total disrespectful for the family.

“On Wednesday I expect the Lord Advocate to tell us what he is going to do about the leak. “The family hold him directly responsible. 

“The family built up a tremendous relationship with the previous Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland and with those who worked for him, and they have continuously said for the past three years and five months said that they retain faith in the Lord Advocate to do the right thing. But they’ve said to me that faith is not blind, and that faith is now gone.

“I would expect the Lord Advocate to apologise to the family on Wednesday, it is the very least he can do. 

“And whoever it was that made the leak should be prosecuted. The first people that have the right to know about the future of this case are the family.

“I have great deal of respect for the hard work that the Crown Office do, so this is extremely damaging to see a family torn to shreds because someone couldn’t keep their mouth shut.”

The Lord Advocate’s office have refused to say whether or not they are investigating the leak, telling the Sunday National only that: “We are meeting the family in the near future to update them and it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”

The leak was raised at FMQs last week by Dr Claire Baker, Labour MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife. The First Minister condemned the leak but did not commit to asking the Lord Advocate to investigate.

Speaking to the Sunday National, Dr Baker joined Aamer Anwar’s calls for an apology.

She said: “The family of Sheku Bayoh have waited over three years for a decision from the Lord Advocate and to have to read a leaked report in a newspaper, which claims to know the decision, is shameful.

“I am disappointed that the First Minister did not address the serious nature of the leak in her response, or agree with the need for an investigation. 

“With the family due to meet the Lord Advocate on Wednesday, 
attention will be focused on his decision, but it is still important that this completely unacceptable leak from his office is addressed and I am calling on him to undertake a thorough investigation.”
It is expected that a peaceful protest will take place outside the meeting in Edinburgh, with the campaign group Scotland Against Criminalising Communities encouraging the public to show support for the family.
After the meeting, Anwar and the family will travel to Holyrood to meet with Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, to restate their demand for a public inquiry regardless of whether any Police Scotland officers are set to be charged.

The long running case has been awash with smears and leaks said Anwar, who is representing Bayoh’s family on a pro-bono basis.
If the Lord Advocate informs the family next week that there are to be no prosecutions, their legal team has 28 days to seek a review of that decision.

And while Anwar and the family are demanding a full public inquiry, a Fatal Accident Inquiry and a civil case against Police Scotland for £1.8 million are still outstanding.

Anwar said the family are devastated by the string of leaks and character smears that have accompanied the case. 

“The spinning started in the first few minutes after Sheku died. The stories that have been spun from this case have been unbelievable. 

“There was a long running rumour that he had a knife, and then a machete, and then it was that he had attacked a police officer. Collette’s character has been attacked. 

“His best friend has been smeared.

“We’ve never shied away from the facts of the case but Sheku Bayoh didn’t deserve to die, and the attempts to criminalise him and smear his character, and the character of his family, have been disgraceful all along,” he added.

The National:


May 3, 2015 – Sheku Bayoh, 31, a trainee gas engineer, dies while being detained by Police Scotland officers. CS spray, batons, wrist and ankle restraints were used. Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) Kate Frame launches an investigation into the death.

June 2015 – Hundreds of people attend Bayoh’s funeral.

August 2015 – Interim PIRC report submitted to the Crown Office.

October 2015 – The BBC publishes the identity of one 
of the police officers who arrested Bayoh, PC Alan 
Paton, after his family allege 
he has a violent and racist background.

November 2015 – Bayoh’s family meet with the First Minister and the then Justice Secretary Michael Matheson to discuss the case.

August 2016 – Full PIRC report is submitted to the Crown Office with “additional lines of investigation” from the inquiry. Their reports take in more than 500 statements from police, experts and witnesses.
December 2016 – Bayoh’s death certificate is updated to include toxicology results showing he ingested ecstasy and Flakka, a “legal high”.

January 2017 – BBC documentary After Sheku is aired, with Bayoh’s family calling for the authorities to deal with unanswered questions in the case.

April 2018 – A police officer involved in the case, Nicole Short, lodges a claim at the Court of Session against the Scottish Police Authority after her application to retire early on medical grounds is refused. Paton lodges the same legal action five months later.

May 2018 – Sheku Bayoh’s family announce they have begun a civil action against Police Scotland for £1.85 million over claims the force “failed to protect him” when he died in custody. Bayoh’s sister Kadi Johnson calls for Frame to resign.

September 23, 2018 – Mail on Sunday publish a leaked report that suggests no charges will be brought against any of the police officers who came into contact with the 31-year-old on the day he died in custody.