Family acts over death in custody

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Crime Correspondent

The family of a man who died after being in police custody are to launch an appeal to pay for a private prosecution against two officers who were involved in a struggle with the dead man.

The move follows an announcement by the Crown Prosecution Service that no police officers involved in the incident should be prosecuted because of insufficient evidence.

Brian Douglas, 33, a music promoter, died after his arrest last May in south-west London. He suffered a fractured skull, which his family claimed was caused by the use of the new American-style batons.

His brother Donald, 40, a charity director, said yesterday that he and other members of the family were seeing lawyers to plan a private criminal prosecution, and that it would cost about pounds 70,000.

"We have no choice but to launch an appeal to raise that sort of money," he said. "In addition, we hope to have a QC at the inquest which should be held soon, and there is no legal aid for us."

Mr Douglas, assistant divisional director of Save the Children fund, said he did not pin much faith on all the facts being aired at the resumed inquest, which was opened and adjourned to allow the CPS to consider prosecuting.

He said that the advice the family had received from QCs suggested that a private prosecution could be launched.

His brother died in St Thomas's hospital, five days after being arrested in Clapham, south-west London.

He was involved in a struggle with two police officers and was taken to Vauxhall police station on suspicion of being under the influence of drugs and drink. A post-mortem examination found that he had a fractured skull but the cause of death will not be made public until the inquest into his death.

After the death, Scotland Yard said: "Two police officers took action to ensure their own safety after a knife and a CS gas canister were produced."