Sean Rigg investigation: IPCC announces independent review of its own investigation into the death of a mentally ill man in police custody

 

The embattled police watchdog has announced an independent review of its own investigation into a controversial death in custody after an inquest contradicted many of its findings.

Sean Rigg, 40, a mentally ill man, died on the floor of Brixton police station in August 2008 – less than an hour after he was restrained by four police officers.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission, who today published its long awaited report into the death, found no evidence that neglect or wrong doing or excessive force contributed to Mr Rigg’s death. In fact the IPCC found that the four officers “adhered to policy and good practice by monitoring Mr Rigg in the back of the van whilst being transported to Brixton Police Station following his arrest.”

Yet having interrogated much of the same evidence available to the IPCC, the inquest jury came to very different conclusions in their narrative verdict after rejecting much of the evidence given by the four arresting officers and custody sergeant.

It found that positional asphyxia was one of the causes of Mr Rigg’s death as a result of the “unsuitable” force during an “unnecessarily” long restraint. Police actions and inactions contributed to his death.

This is a highly unusual move as it is the first time the IPCC has commissioned an independent eternal enquiry into one of its own investigation, despite frequent criticism from families, lawyers, MPs and campaigners in the past.

But the scale of the apparent flaws into the Rigg investigation provoked disbelief as they were revealed at the inquest which concluded earlier this month.

The Rigg family last night welcomed the independent review. “There has never been any doubt in our minds that the IPCC’s inadequate report of February 2010 reflected an extremely poor and ineffective investigation into Sean’s death.

“The review must be a root and branch examination of the IPCC’s investigation and that it is transparent, robust and effective, so that officers are made accountable for Sean’s death.”

The IPCC failed to interview the officers for over six months, despite being in attendance at police station just hours after Sean Rigg’s death. Details of a “debrief” meeting held that night was withheld from the family until it was accidentally revealed during the inquest.

The apparently willingness by the watchdog to accept the evidence of the officers without cross-checking it with CCTV footage or radio message was also exposed during the inquest.

Custody Sergeant Paul White told the IPCC that he went outside to the police van in order to assess Mr Rigg’s well-being and was satisfied there was no cause for concern about his health.

In fact, CCTV from the custody suite proved that Sergeant White never went anywhere near the van, and in fact his evidence was ruled “not true” by the coroner. The jury found that Mr Rigg was “extremely unwell and not fully conscious” in the van and that the failure by police to properly assess his mental and physical health at any point from his arrest was “inadequate”.

The IPCC announced an investigation into Sergeant White following the inquest verdict. .

Helen Shaw, co-director of charity INQUEST said: “It should not have taken an inquest to discover some basic facts... Families should not have to rely on their own efforts to make sure the full facts about such deaths are established and those responsible for deaths are held to account.”

Daniel Machover of Hickman and Rose, Wayne Rigg’s solicitor, said: “The external review ordered by Anne Owers will need to get to grips with all the failings of the IPCC's investigation, not least because this is not an isolated example. The IPCC must find a way to deliver robust and effective independent investigations into the most serious cases of alleged police misconduct, otherwise officers will never be held properly accountable in such cases, which will be disastrous for the police service and the public and leave more bereaved families with a burning sense of injustice.”

The IPCC said: “[The review] will help the overall review of deaths following police contact which is due to begin in September.”

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little