Ever since news of Sheku Bayoh’s death in police custody, the rumours, accusations, information and misinformation have been swirling around the case.
The police have pretty much kept close quarters, and that was to be expected with an investigation ongoing into the circumstances surrounding Mr Bayoh’s passing, while family members with high-profile solicitor Aamer Anwar acting as a spokesperson were not backwards in coming forwards demanding answers to their many questions.
That too, is not a criticism, and is only to be expected from a family who have seen their loved one taken from them in what can only be described as mysterious circumstances.
Having said all that then, the news this week that the Scottish Government has called for a public inquiry simply has to be welcomed from all quarters – if only to put an end to the circus which has been peripheral to the real crux of the matter. The truth.
In the past four-a-half-years, we’ve seen claims and counter claims, statements for/against parties said to be involved on the fateful morning of May 3 2015, a BBC documentary which only served to muddy the waters, and numerous other episodes of a saga which definitely should not have been this drawn out.
In my opinion, it is an utter disgrace it has taken until this past week for a final decision on whether or not prosecutions would come in the case, either against Police Scotland or individual officers involved in restraining Mr Bayoh that night.
If someone died following what one might term a ‘normal’ altercation on a Kirkcaldy street, you would expect to see someone in court the very next day – regardless of their innocence or not. They would not have been given 32 days, as in this case, to give statements.
The family – and also therefore the wider public, as this is very much in the public’s interest – were also promised a” prompt” investigation into what happened, but I would hardly suggest anything to do with this case has been done in a fashion anywhere approaching “prompt”.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing though, and we are where we are now, and that’s looking forward to a public inquiry.
There’s two sides to every story, and my only hope is that both those sides get a full and frank airing in public.
We need to find out exactly what happened that morning, who said or did what, and if the force used by officers to restrain Mr Bayoh was unnecessary, unreasonable and/or out of proportion to the threat perceived by officers.
The only means left to do that is through a public inquiry, during which it will be time to put the emotions and the passions of it all to one side and focus on the fact that a young man, a father-of-two, passed away.
My only hope that such a process can finally bring some sort of closure to all those whose lives have been touched by what happened, on both sides, although I fear that may never truly be the case.