POLICE Scotland chief constable Stephen House has held secret meetings with the officers at the centre of the Sheku Bayoh death in custody case, the Sunday Herald can reveal.

House met the officers for “welfare” reasons after an independent watchdog had been instructed to investigate the death of the Sierra Leone national in Kirkcaldy.

He also paid a home visit to one of the constables, Nicole Short, who is due to stand trial for alleged data protection breaches unconnected to the Sheku Bayoh base.

However, the country’s top police officer has not met the Bayoh family, a snub solicitor Aamer Anwar said was “disrespectful, disgusting and insulting”.

Bayoh, a father who worked for British Gas, died on May 3 after being restrained by several officers who responded to a call out on a Kirkcaldy street.

It is understood he was handcuffed and put in leg restraints following an altercation with the officers. He died in custody after losing consciousness.

Within twenty-four hours, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) was instructed by the Crown Office to investigate the circumstances of the death.

The PIRC last week submitted an interim report to the Crown.

On May 14, Anwar and members of Bayoh’s family held a press conference in Edinburgh to air their concerns about Police Scotland and the PIRC investigation.

The solicitor said Bayoh’s family had been given “five different versions” of events by the force, adding that the family could not understand why the officers had not been “suspended without prejudice”.

He has since raised concerns that the officers did not provide statements to the PIRC until weeks after the probe began.

The Sunday Herald can now reveal that House met the all but one of the officers involved in the incident collectively.

He also met Nicole Short at her home as she had been injured during the altercation and was unfit for duty due to ill health.

The meetings took place after the PIRC was put in charge of the investigation.

Deputy Chief Constable Neil Richardson said: “The Chief Constable met with officers involved in the incident, including the officer who was injured, from a welfare perspective.”

At the time of her meeting with the chief constable, Short had separately been accused of illegally accessing confidential information on the police computer system in 2012.

Her case had first called in September last year.

Short was set to appear at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court this month, but the case was postponed.

Defence lawyer Ross Cameron told the court that Short had been involved in an "incident in Kirkcaldy" that had led to a "complicated medical state".

He said: "She maintains her plea of not guilty and her attendance is excused."

He added: "Quite simply, she is currently not fit for trial due to a complicated medical state following on from an incident in Kirkcaldy.”

A trial diet is scheduled for December.

In a letter to the chief constable, Anwar set out a series of questions about House’s visit.

He wrote: “In the interests of transparency can you provide the Bayou family with an explanation as to the purpose of your meeting with Nicole Short and whether the death of Sheku Bayoh was discussed?”

He also stated: “With respect, the family want to know whether you think it was appropriate for you to attend such a meeting with an officer facing an ongoing criminal prosecution but also subject to an independent PIRC investigation.”

Speaking to the Sunday Herald, Anwar also attacked House for not meeting the Bayoh family: “The family find it disrespectful, disgusting and insulting that the chief constable has not agreed to meet them, but did meet the officers.”

Hugh Henry, Scottish Labour’s shadow justice secretary, said: "It's commendable that the Chief Constable has shown strong support for his staff who feel under pressure. But the Chief Constable also has a duty of care to the public whom he serves. In a controversial case like this, should he not also have reached out to the family of Sheku Bayoh?

“Not to have done so makes it look as though he has taken sides before the independent investigation has reached a conclusion."

Murdo Fraser, a Tory MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “I can appreciate the chief constable feels in a difficult position over meeting the family, given there is an ongoing inquiry by the PIRC. However, given that he has already met the officers involved, it seems insensitive not to meet the family. It is time he reconsidered.”

Brian Docherty, the chair of the Scottish Police Federation, said: “Sir Stephen House should be congratulated for showing his support for officers in these tragic circumstances.”

A spokesman for the PIRC said: "This is a matter for Police Scotland."