Sheku Bayoh

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I thank Liam Kerr for those important questions and the tone in which he asked them. I agree that there has been a long search for answers from the family of Mr Bayoh. I cannot comment too much on the reasons for those delays. As Liam Kerr will be fully aware, the investigation into whether there would be criminal proceedings was conducted independently by the Crown—rightly, there was no ministerial influence on that.

The reasons for that length of time are for the Crown to answer and I am sure that that would have been part of the conversation that took place between the Lord Advocate and the Bayoh family yesterday.

In saying that, I think that there is a balance to be struck between ensuring that the public inquiry not only forensically examines the incident that we are discussing—the tragic death of Mr Bayoh—but looks at further potential systemic issues. However, it should not be so wide that it loses focus and therefore exacerbates the challenge, the difficulty and the hurt that the family have felt because of the time that it has taken to get to this point. There will be a fine balance to strike and that will be part of my discussion about the remit with stakeholders who have an interest in this as well as with the chair of the inquiry.

On Liam Kerr’s question about whether the inquiry will be judge led, he will forgive me, but we need to take some time to have a discussion with stakeholders. I welcome any conversations with members of the Opposition as well. As I tried to say in my statement, it is important that, as well as having a chair, the inquiry has the appropriate expertise, particularly on issues to do with race and diversity; it is hugely important to build that expertise into the inquiry. We have seen that done in some inquiries down south, such as the Macpherson inquiry, but we have also seen where it has not been done correctly. There was a lot of criticism of the Grenfell inquiry because of a lack of diversity, considering the victims who were involved in that tragedy. We want to make sure that we learn lessons from inquiries that have taken place in Scotland and in other parts of the United Kingdom.

On Liam Kerr’s FAI question, which again is a pertinent and important one, the Lord Advocate has said very clearly that an FAI would not be able to examine the post-incident management of the tragic death of Mr Bayoh. I should say that the Lord Advocate is happy for me to say that on the record; that is why it is in my statement. He does not give me that advice as a law officer but does so in his remit as the head of investigations into deaths. Of course, we would not disclose advice from law officers.

For anybody looking objectively at the case, there are questions that have to be answered, not just on the lead-up to Mr Bayoh’s death but on the post-incident management that followed. An FAI simply would not cover those areas, so the decision to have a public inquiry under the 2005 act is right in this case.