Sheku Bayoh

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 12th November 2019.

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Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

David Torrance has made a crucial point. A number of questions have remained unanswered, which is my reason for instructing a public inquiry, but I am afraid that sometimes in that vacuum accusations that have been insensitive—that is the nicest word that I could possibly use; frankly, some of them have been smears—have been bandied around. That is not just deeply unhelpful; as members can imagine, they have also been incredibly hurtful for the families involved.

Sheku Bayoh was roughly my age when he died. He was a Muslim, as am I. He was also a member of a minority population living in Scotland, much as I am. Fundamental questions have to be asked not just about the events leading up to his death but, frankly, about the processes that took place afterwards. As Cabinet Secretary for Justice, I want to have absolute confidence in the processes that exist in the justice system over which I preside, to ensure that such a death does not happen again. I hope that we would be able to prevent it but if, tragically, it were to happen again, I would want to have absolute confidence in the processes that would follow.

David Torrance is right. For all those involved and all who are stakeholders, emotions have run high. No doubt that is still true for Mr Bayoh’s family, but I do not doubt that it is also true for the police officers who were involved. Perhaps everyone needs to understand that at the heart of the incident is a man who lost his life and a family who are devastated by that. Frankly, everyone should let the inquiry do the job that it is meant to do, which is to get to the truth and answer the questions that currently remain unanswered.