THE public inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh in police custody will focus on whether officers were influenced by his race, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

The 31-year-old trainee gas engineer from Sierra Leone was restrained by up to nine police officers using CS spray, pepper spray and batons in Kirkcaldy in May 2015.

Officers later said they had responded to calls about a “large black man” waving a knife, shouting at cares and behaving erratically.

Mr Bayoh, who had taken the drugs MDMA and Flakka, suffered 23 separate injuries.

The Crown Office decided not to prosecute any of the officers involved.

Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf announced in January that the former judge Lord Bracadale would chair an independent inquiry into Mr Bayoh’s death.

Publishing the inquiry remit today, Mr Yousaf said it would look at the events leading up to and following Mr Bayoh’s death and whether “in particular the actions of the officers involved, were affected by his actual or perceived race”.

It would also “make recommendations to address any findings in that regard”.  

With accusations of a cover-up levelled at the police, he said the inquiry would also examine “the post incident management process and subsequent investigation into his death”.

He said the inquiry would establish “the extent to which Mr Bayoh’s actual or perceived race played a part in events, if any”.

It will also establish “any precautions which could reasonably have been taken and, had they been taken might realistically have resulted in the death being avoided”.

Mr Yousaf said: “When I announced in November that a public inquiry was to be held, I said then that it is imperative that the circumstances leading up to Mr Bayoh’s death and the events that followed are examined in full and in public. 

I am pleased that today brings us a further step closer to that.

“I met with key parties, including the family of Mr Bayoh, to discuss the approach to the terms of reference. 

“While they do not feature all of the issues raised with me during my discussion, the terms of reference do focus on the incident and are sufficiently broad enough to allow the chair to look at wider issues he may consider relevant to the inquiry.”

Lord Bracadale said: “I welcome the announcement of the terms of reference of the public inquiry. I believe that they will enable my inquiry to conduct a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Bayoh and the wider issues arising.

“I understand the impact which the Covid-19 pandemic has inevitably had on preparation for the inquiry and look forward to being able to make progress in due course.”

In a statement issued on behalf of Mr Bayoh’s family and partner Collette Bell, lawyer Aamer Answer said: “The Bayoh family welcomes the unprecedented and wide ranging  terms of reference now published for the Public Inquiry. 

“Sheku’s loved ones have long believed that the Crown Office and PIRC betrayed their struggle for justice, but they hope this inquiry will robustly search for the truth and hold power to account. 

“I pay tribute to the courage and perseverance of Collette and Sheku’s family without whom this inquiry would never have been possible. ”

Scottish Green Justice Spokesperson John Finnie MSP said: “I welcome the comprehensive terms of reference that have been published.

“From the representations made to me it’s clear the areas of greatest concern surrounding this tragic loss of life relate to whether the actions of the officers involved were affected by Mr Bayoh’s race, the post-incident management process and the investigation itself.

“I believe the terms of reference allow for these issues, and other legitimate concerns to be thoroughly examined and I’ve every confidence that’s what Lord Bracadale will do.”

Mr Yousaf said he had discussed the terms with the Bayoh family, Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Federation), Scottish Police Authority, Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC), Association of Scottish Police Superintendents , Scottish Chief Police Officers' Staff Association, and former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini, as well as the current the Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC, the Solicitor General and Lord Bracadale.