Scotland’s top prosecutor has appealed for restraint from all sides as the investigation into the death of a man in custody continues.
Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland urged all those with an interest in the death of Sheku Bayoh not to engage in “speculation and a running commentary”.
The circumstances surrounding Mr Bayoh’s death in Kirkcaldy, Fife, on May 3 are currently under investigation by Police Scotland’s independent watchdog the Police Investigations Review Commissioner (Pirc).
Mr Mulholland called for Pirc and the Crown Office to be allowed to “get on with their job” amid intense media interest in the case.
The intervention follows a public spat between Aamer Anwar, the lawyer representing Mr Bayoh’s family, and former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill.
Mr Mulholland QC said both Pirc and the Crown were “well aware of all the evidence, the lines of enquiry and the issues surrounding this case”.
“The Crown and Pirc are not influenced by comments made in the media and that is how it should be,” he said.
“However, speculation and a running commentary on the investigation can be upsetting to the family of Sheku Bayoh as well as the families of the officers involved.
“A decision will be taken at the end of this extremely complex investigation as to whether or not criminal proceedings should be raised.
“An inquiry will also be held at which all the relevant evidence will be heard, open to the public and the media, and it is right that it is this forum where the evidence will be rigorously tested and judicially assessed.
“Pirc, and the Crown, should be allowed to get on with their job.”
Earlier this week, Mr MacAskill accused campaigners and commentators of declaring an “open season of hunting Police Scotland” and creating a “poisonous atmosphere” in which individual officers have been targeted.
His comments were welcomed by Prof Peter Watson, the lawyer for the police officers involved in the case.
Mr Anwar responded by accusing Mr MacAskill and Mr Watson of “yet another attempt to divert attention from why Sheku Bayoh died”.