THE LAWYER fighting for justice over the death of Sheku Bayoh, has said sympathy for the family will not be enough as an independent inquiry opened.

Its chairman Lord Bracadale said in a video statement to mark the official probe's opening that it will be “thorough and fearless".

But Aamer Anwar, acting on behalf of the Bayoh family while welcoming the comments said that the inquiry "must be prepared to go where no inquiry has gone before".

And he added: "In the end the real test of this inquiry will not be the sympathy expressed for a family who have conducted themselves throughout with utmost dignity, but whether this country acts to ensure that real change takes place in an unaccountable, all powerful justice system."

READ MORE: Sheku Bayoh: Public inquiry into death in police custody to begin next week

Mr Bayoh, a 31-year-old gas engineer died after being restrained by officers responding to a call in Kirkcaldy, Fife, on May 3 2015.

Mr Anwar added: "Whilst for some it has been easy to scapegoat Police Scotland, for the family the ultimate betrayal was at the hands of the Lord Advocate and Crown Office.

"The public inquiry only came about because of the tenacious determination and campaigning of Sheku’s partner Collette and his family. This inquiry will be testament to them and their desire to seek the truth and ensure Sheku is never forgotten."


Justice secretary Humza Yousaf, announced the inquiry last November and Lord Bracadale was appointed chairman in January.

In his opening statement Lord Bracadale, in setting set out the background to the case, the inquiry’s purpose, he insisted that the inquiry was independent and impartial.

“While the inquiry is funded by the Scottish Government, I must stress that it will operate independently from the government or any other organisation.

“It will be conducted with transparency and openness.

“As well as being independent, the inquiry is also entirely impartial.

“The inquiry’s role is inquisitorial: it will carry out its own investigation into the facts surrounding the death of Mr Bayoh and subsequent events."

He added: “It has now been over five years since the death of Mr Bayoh and I, and my team, are conscious of the length of time this has hung over all involved, particularly the Bayoh family.

“We will work with determination and focus to ensure the work can be completed as quickly as possible."

He said it was "impossible" to say how long the inquiry would take.

“It is only from today, the setting-up date of the inquiry, that we are allowed by law to start in gathering the evidence.

“Preliminary discussions with some of the organisations involved lead us to believe that we will have in the region of 50,000 documents to scrutinise.

“This will clearly take some time for my team to get through.”

Mr Anwar said the family appreciate that the inquiry must now adjourn for "many months" to allow all parties to prepare.

"Fighting for a proper investigation, never mind achieving meaningful change, has involved the Bayohs in enormous challenges and obstacles at great personal cost to the emotional and physical health of their family, young and old. Their lives were changed forever on May 3, 2015," he said.

"But they have refused over the five years to be lied to, patronised, marginalised or bullied...

"Kadie Johnson, Sheku’s sister has no doubt that the way he or her family were treated by the police and the justice system would not have happened had Sheku been white.."