New IPCC investigation into custody sergeant in Sean Rigg case

 

A new investigation into the custody sergeant who was found to have lied under oath at the Sean Rigg inquest has been launched by the Independent Police Complaints Commission amid criticisms about its original investigation which found no wrongdoing against any of the officers involved in his death.

The four arresting officers PC Mark Harratt, PC Richard Glasson, PC Andrew Birks and PC Forward who restrained Mr Rigg, 40, for eight minutes face down with “unsuitable” force that was found to have contributed to his death - are no longer on operational duties, the Metropolitan Police Service said.

The watchdog today announced an “independent investigation” into the evidence of Custody Sergeant Paul White who is on restricted duties.

It will also review its own investigation into the incident which the Rigg Family have described as “inadequate and obstructive”.

But Marcia Rigg, Sean’s older sister, last night slammed the decision by the IPCC to effectively investigate itself. “This is absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable - I have no faith in the IPCC whatsoever. There needs to be an independent investigation into their Mickey Mouse investigation which found no wrongdoing.”

Mr Rigg, a talented musician with a 20-year long history of relapsing mental illness, died on the floor of Brixton police station in August 2008 – less than an hour after he was restrained by officers. The failure to get him medical help as his physical state rapidly deteriorated contributed to his death, the jury found. Partial positional asphyxia from the restraint was recorded as one of the causes of death.

The IPCC arrived at Brixton police station within a few hours of Rigg’s death but waited five months before starting to interview the police involved. The IPCC did not consider the restraint to be relevant.

Its investigators failed to identify and seize all the relevant CCTV from Brixton police station and outside, and chasing crucial camera footage was left to the family.

About half a minute of crucial footage which showed an unconscious Sean being ‘carried’ from the van as if he was walking, and which proved that custody Sergeant White never checked on him in the van despite his detailed evidence to the contrary was initially withheld from the family by the IPCC.

The lead IPCC investigator, Chris Partridge, was replaced after a few months.

A debrief meeting held at 2.30am on the night of death, involving the arresting officers and representatives from the IPCC, who took notes, the Met’s Department of Professional Standards, the Police Federation was kept from the family.

The IPCC were criticised during the inquest because this was when the officers gave their initial accounts of the incident. The coroner has ordered the IPCC to attend his Rule 43 hearing next month where he will make recommendations to prevent similar tragedies.

Relatives of two men who also died in police custody last night condemned the justice system which they said repeatedly failed to uncover the truth.

Doreen Jjuko has attended the Rigg inquest – nine years after sitting in the same court room in Southwark where the controversial verdict of ‘misadventure’ for her son Ricky Bishop was delivered.

“It is the same theatre as it was back then. The coroner in the starring role has changed and so have the actors and characters, but it is still a kangaroo court. There was no justice for my son and nothing has changed.”

Bernard Renwick, the brother of Roger Sylvester who died in 2003, said: “Nothing seems to have changed since Roger died. People of colour have to fight to the death to get justice and we have to ask ourselves why?”

An IPCC spokeswoman said: “We are considering the verdict and the evidence very carefully to decide what action we should take. We will be reviewing our own investigation and any consequences for police officers. We have already decided to carry out an independent investigation into Sergeant White’s evidence.”

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