AN investigation into media leaks from the Lord Advocate’s office has been criticised by the lawyer for the family of Sheku Bayoh.

Bayoh died in Kirkaldy in 2015 after being restrained by police. The Lord Advocate told his family earlier this month that no officers would be charged in relation to the case.

But that decision was leaked to the media 10 days before they were told, which “tore the family to pieces”.

Aamer Anwar said his expectation was that there would be a fully transparent probe into the media leaks, however the Crown Office has refused to say if they are investigating themselves, if external civil servants or consultants are involved in the leak inquiry, or announced the remit or timescale of the probe. It is not clear what stage the investigation is at or who it will report to.

Anwar told the Sunday National: “The family felt betrayed by a leak that could have only come from a small circle of individuals. We were advised that nobody apart from those in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service were privy to the  decision.

“We were advised there would be a robust and transparent investigation by the Lord Advocate, and sadly the family are yet to see what this means in reality.”

Bayoh’s sister Kadi Johnson and his partner Collette Bell were distraught when newspapers revealed 10 days before a critical meeting with the Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC that no police officers would be charged in relation to the death of the 31-year-old. 

Bell had to walk to a newsagents to buy the newspapers after being  inundated by journalists asking her to comment on the decision. 

The family were formally told that no charges would be brought by the Lord Advocate at a meeting in Edinburgh on October 3. 

Although at the time of the meeting the Lord Advocate pledged to investigate the leak, a Crown Office spokesperson has refused to confirm details, noting: “The family of Sheku Bayoh were advised that investigations into the contents of articles that appeared in the media prior to the [October 3] meeting are being undertaken.” 

He would not comment further “in order to protect any potential proceedings”.

Anwar said he is deeply unhappy about the lack of transparency into the leak.

He said: “To say they will not comment to protect potential proceedings is somewhat ironic when they are accused of leaking their findings in the first place. 

“The leak was deliberate so as to limit the outcry at ‘no proceedings’ as well as destroy in advance any confidence the family had left in due process. The Bayoh’s are extremely angered at the soundbites and feel that they are once again being ‘taken for fools’. 

“The Lord Advocate was asked on October 3 to make a public statement on what he intended to do as it was left to the First Minister to  respond in Parliament.

“For over three years the family have watched as they were asked to be silent as parts of the investigation appeared and continued to appear in the media, with the sole purpose of criminalising or smearing. This has added to the sense of betrayal that the family feels.”

A number of legal cases and proceedings are still to take place surrounding the death of the trainee gas fitter. 

The Lord Advocate is currently reviewing his decision not to prosecute any officers involved in the incident that led to Bayoh’s death. 

In addition, Sheku Bayoh’s family have asked Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, to hold a full public inquiry into the case. The family are also pursuing a civil claim for damages against Police Scotland

A Fatal Accident Inquiry is still to be held. And two police officers involved in the case have applied to the Court of Session to have a refusal to allow them to retire on medical grounds overturned. 

Anwar said the leak investigation should stand alone from any other actions the Lord Advocate is taking.

“The mantra appears to be to knock everything into the long grass because of a review of the decision not to  prosecute,” he said. “I am unsure how an investigation into a Crown leak should have any bearing on the review.” 

A Scottish Government spokesperson said ministers expect to be informed of the findings of the leak investigation. 

A spokesperson said: “Our thoughts remain with the family of Sheku Bayoh. 

“This investigation is a matter for the Lord Advocate and we expect to receive a full update on his findings.”