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Boyle and McDermid join support for Sheku Bayoh family

It is nine years since the death of Sheku Bayoh (Jane Barlow/PA)
It is nine years since the death of Sheku Bayoh (Jane Barlow/PA)

Frankie Boyle and Val McDermid are among those giving their backing to Sheku Bayoh’s family as an inquiry into his death prepares to examine race – amid calls for a “more racially-inclusive, fairer and safe society” in Scotland.

Mr Bayoh, 31, a father-of-two, died after he was restrained on the ground by six police officers in Kirkcaldy, Fife, on May 3 2015 after being arrested when he was high on drugs.

The Sheku Bayoh inquiry began two years ago and is examining the circumstances leading to his death, and the aftermath and investigation.

It has focused on the actions of Police Scotland, the Crown Office and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc), and is due to conclude at the end of the year, with a report expected to be published in 2025 – a decade on from his death.

Sheku Bayoh inquiry
Sheku Bayoh died nine years ago (family handout/PA)

A mass vigil will be held on Thursday outside the inquiry at Capital House in Edinburgh, to mark the “critical” stage of examining race.

Comedian Boyle, writer McDermid and SubClub resident DJ Telford are among 76 artists, performers and writers who have backed a statement calling for a “more racially-inclusive, fairer and safe society” as a result of the inquiry.

Mr Bayoh’s sister, Kadi Johnson, said: “The last nine years has been for us a never-ending and painful fight for truth, justice and accountability. It has been emotionally very hard, often distressing, to sit through every hearing, as I and my family have done, over these two years.

“The inquiry will be at a very important stage when the question of race is being examined.”

McDermid said: “I’d be very happy to add my name to the letter of support for Sheku Bayoh’s family. This has been a shocking stain on Scotland’s human rights reputation, which I feel even more keenly as someone who grew up in Kirkcaldy.”

The statement praised the Bayoh family’s dedication, and said: “Their courage and determination over nine long and painful years in pursuit of truth and justice regarding the circumstances of the death of their much-loved son, brother father and uncle has been an inspiration.

“Kadi Johnson, Sheku’s sister has said, ‘My brother Sheku is Scotland’s George Floyd’.

“A worldwide movement followed the killing of George Floyd (in America). People across Scotland must now show solidarity for Sheku’s family and to ensure that his name will never be forgotten.

“We owe it to them. His terrible loss can never be compensated for, but his death will not have been in vain if the inquiry outcome contributes to a more racially-inclusive, fairer and safe society.”