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Statement by Richard Haley at Sheku Bayoh Campaign Launch

Shelu Bayoh campaign launch

Statement by Richard Haley - Chair of SACC - at the Press Conference/Campaign launch in Glasgow on 25 July 2015

I'm very pleased to be here in solidarity with Sheku's family.

Who wouldn't want to do that, when they hear how a fit and healthy young man turned up dead in hospital after just a few minutes encounter with the police?

Of course, some people are going to say:

"Wait a minute. We don't know the full facts yet."

I don't know the full facts either. I don't know exactly what happened on that Sunday morning when Sheku died.

What I know beyond reasonable doubt is that the response of Police Scotland after the event was unacceptable, and that the PIRC investigation was so inadequate that its failure was assured.

The Scottish Governmment apparently sees no problem with this. Ministers seem to believe they have a responsibility to represent the police. They don't. They have a responsibility to represent the people of Scotland.

Theresa May is setting up a review of custody deaths in England and Wales. Someone at a meeting in Brixton last week described Theresa May as "a woman who could make things happen."

She is indeed. She can make people disappear, as happened with Glasgow student Majid Ali who was deported to Pakistan a few weeks ago, and hasn't been heard from since.

Theresa May's announcement has to be viewed with great caution. But at least she's acknowledged the problem. The Scottish Government has not yet done so.

Now I want to come on to a part of the problem that doesn't receive enough attention in Scotland - race.

There's a disturbing pattern of black deaths in custody across the UK. Awareness of the part that racism can play has to be a part of any investigation.

Police racism can be individual and blatant, or it can be institutional.

Either way, it might mean the difference between whether you live or die if you find yourself in a potentially confrontational situation with the police.

It isn't enough for Police Scotland to support Show Racism the Red Card. Racism won't get its red card until police recognise the risks of institutional racism, and move on from the view that people who suspect them of racism are just showing a bad attitude towards the police.

We'll hear this afternoon from people who have been struggling for justice for years. But I can't say to Sheku's family that's just the way it is, you'll have to wait years to find out what happened.

Some things – like the public inquiry that must now happen – will take time, and will have to be fought for.

But the fatally flawed PIRC investigation is the only investigation we have at the moment. The family need to be told, very urgently, what PIRC have found. It won't be the justice that they eventually need, but it will be a beginning.

I want to finish with a message from Paddy Hill, who spent 17 years in jail, framed by police for a crime he didn't commit.

"I was shocked and disgusted to hear about what happened to Sheku Bayoh, but not surprised at his treatment at the hands of the Police. As many in attendance at today’s meeting will be all too aware from their own bitter experience, his death is far from unique, as is the action of the officers involved in his death, and the subsequent reaction of Police Scotland to his death.

As I understand it they have told Sheku’s family as many lies about the circumstances of his death as I have fingers and toes. I support Sheku's  family's call for an independent inquiry into his death.

Far too many people are dying at the hands of those entrusted with our protection. This must be stopped. This must not be swept under the carpet. Everyone at MOJO supports your fight for truth and justice."