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

I thank James Kelly for that question, which is an important but difficult one. He knows as well as I do the importance of the independence of the Lord Advocate. Of course, that does not translate into not being accountable. Although our judiciary and the Crown are independent of Government and of parliamentarians, that does not mean that they are not accountable for their decisions. The Lord Advocate is answerable to the Parliament and has, on occasion, answered questions on the very spot where I am standing.

Any decision for immunity would of course be a question for the Lord Advocate and for the Crown; I hope that James Kelly understands why I am answering in that way. It would be unacceptable for the justice secretary to make a decision on who should receive immunity from prosecution in a whole range of cases, and I think that James Kelly understands that. Equally, now that I have chosen to set up a public inquiry, I would understand the frustration of James Kelly and others if those who attended it did not give full and frank answers. There is a decision for the Lord Advocate to make in respect of immunity.

On the point about other cases, the public inquiry will look specifically at the Sheku Bayoh case. It will focus on that case, but it will look at some of the systemic issues around it. If systemic issues are raised, they may well be relevant to other previous cases. Of course, the focus of the inquiry will be on the unique circumstances around the tragic incident that took place involving Mr Bayoh.