In this edition:

  • BBC Radio 4 Appeal
  • INQUEST visits Scotland
  • Sean Rigg: Decade-long fight for justice
  • Grenfell
  • Deaths following use of force
  • Unsafe prisons
  • Seeking Home Office accountability over Windrush death
  • Upcoming events
  • Tri for INQUEST

Did you catch the INQUEST charity appeal on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday? Presented by performer and activist Mark Thomas, it details the story of Seni Lewis and his family, and how INQUEST provides support at a vital time. If you missed the appeal, you can listen again online or listen live on Radio 4 at 3.25pm on Thursday 30 August.

Please share the appeal widely amongst your networks. If you are on Twitter, use the hashtag #INQUESTr4appeal or copy this suggested tweet
“I am supporting the #INQUESTr4appeal. @INQUEST_ORG does vital work supporting bereaved families and campaigning for truth, justice & accountability following a state related death. Listen to @markthomasinfo to find out more, and remember to share & donate

You can also save the above image to add to your tweet.

Completely independent of government, INQUEST relies entirely on grants and donations. Thank you for listening, sharing and donating to the appeal.

INQUEST visits Scotland

INQUEST is undertaking scoping work to consider how our decades of expertise in England and Wales can be utilised to inform wider change and better practice elsewhere. Lucy McKay (INQ), Dan Curran (Scottish Gov review team) and Deborah Coles (INQ)

The Scottish Government is currently doing a Review of the arrangements for investigating deaths of patients in hospital for treatment of a mental disorder. We met with the review team and their panel of experts. Our presentation focused on the need for independent investigations into non-natural deaths in mental health settings to enable oversight, learning and accountability.

INQUEST also met with government and non-government organisations working on issues around prison and policing, and with specialist lawyers to discuss ongoing cases we are working on in Scotland. 

Scotland has different investigation processes following deaths in custody. There is no equivalent organisation to INQUEST in Scotland and there is a clear need to continue this work. 

Sean Rigg: Decade-long fight for justice

21 August marked the decade anniversary of the death of Sean Rigg. Five officers involved in Sean’s death will face gross misconduct charges, but not until January 2019.

Sean’s sister, Marcia, said “I never thought it would take this long, but I knew I would see it through, as long as it takes. It’s unnecessary delay, caused by the very people who I am challenging, the police and the criminal justice system.”

Sean’s family have been at the centre of supporting many other families fighting for justice, including through the United Families and Friends Campaign.

“There would have been a coverup if it was not for the persistence of Marcia Rigg and her family, at great personal cost to them” said INQUEST Director Deborah Coles.

Marking the anniversary, Marcia organised a powerful short play, Never Forgotten, about Sean’s life and death, and the subsequent tireless campaign to get the truth, justice and accountability.

INQUEST caseworker Victoria McNally spoke on a panel after the performance, discussing what lessons have been learnt following Sean’s death, and the challenges that lie ahead. 


INQUEST, Grenfell United, Justice4Grenfell and Relative Justice Humanity for Grenfell sent a letter to the Grenfell Public Inquiry Team calling for effective participation. The organisations asked for the venue for the inquiry to be moved closer to the local community, for lawyers representing bereaved survivors and residents to be able to ask questions as and when the need arises, and requested full and prompt disclosure of all evidence.

We are currently awaiting a response from the Inquiry. The Grenfell Inquiry resumes on 3 September 2018 following the summer recess.

Deaths following use of force

The police officer who arrested Rashan Charles has been cleared of misconduct. Lucy McKay, policy and communications officer was quoted in the Guardian and Independent:

The IOPC note that the restraint technique used was ‘unorthodox’ but did not find this amounted to misconduct. They highlight the stressful and exhausting circumstances faced by the officer. The same generous considerations were not afforded to Rashan, in life or in death.”
It has been over two years since Dalian Atkinson died following the use of a taser and the investigation into his death is still ongoing. Deborah Coles commented in the Guardian that the delay is “all too reminiscent of the poor practice highlighted in the Angiolini review”.

Sussex Police officers were cleared of gross misconduct for actions relating to the death of Duncan Tomlin, who died in 2014 two days after he was restrained by officers in a police van. INQUEST was quoted in the Independent.

Unsafe prisons

HM Inspectorate of Prisons issued an urgent notification to the justice secretary, following a damning inspection of HMP Birmingham. The responsibility for the prison was removed from private contractor G4S and brought back under government control. 

Prisons have been in crisis for decades, including when Labour was in power and staff numbers were high, says INQUEST trustee Joe Sim in the Guardian.

Prisons can be made safer by dramatically reducing the prison population and investing in community services, writes Deborah Coles and INQUEST trustees Joe Sim and Steve Tombs in the Guardian

Seeking Home Office accountability over Windrush death

The family of Dexter Bristol, who died from acute heart failure whilst experiencing issues with his immigration status, walked out of an inquest after the coroner ruled Home Office policy played no role in his death. Deborah Coles was quoted in the Independent and the Guardian:

“It defies belief that the Home Office were not called to account for their actions not least given the impact of their policies on peoples mental and physical health.”

Also last month:

  • INQUEST casework assistant Christian has started a series called #TheLawIn60Seconds. He produces quick and easy videos to explain legal rights and make the law accessible to everyone. Find out more.
  • Rashan Charles’ great Uncle, Rod Charles, provides an in depth analysis of the CCTV evidence of Rashan's death for OpenDemocracy.
  • Having submitted evidence to the Mental Health Act reviewDeborah Coles met with the Chair, Professor Simon Wessely, and some of the review team.
  • The family of Suleyman Yalcin, who died in a police van crash, told the BBC the IOPC has failed to collect and disclose key evidence during its investigation.
  • There have been over 200 self-inflicted deaths in mental health units over the past seven years. In the Guardian, Deborah Coles calls for the introduction of mandatory independent investigations into deaths in places of mental health care to ensure necessary scrutiny.

Upcoming events

  • 2 September: The first annual Stop the Stigma event in memory of Marc Cole, who lost his life during a mental health crisis after being tasered by police, is taking place in Falmouth.
  • 27 September: INQUEST is speaking on a panel at the Safe Ground symposium A matter of life and death.
  • 13 & 14 October: INQUEST Director Deborah Coles is speaking at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies conference State Racism: Policing, Institutional Collusion and Justice.
  • 26 October: The United Families and Friends Campaign is holding a conference Interrogating State Violence: Custodial deaths, justice and resistance.


John O'Neill, aged 63, completed his first Olympic distance triathlon in under three hours, raising over £10,000 for INQUEST, which is a spectacular achievement.

John was running in memory of James Herbert, and in honour of all those who have lost their lives in state detention. James’ father, Tony, did a fantastic job, providing updates on John’s training and organising his fundraising. This in depth and powerful 
BuzzFeed article reflects on James’ life and the journey of his family since his death.

Thank you, John, from all of us at INQUEST and the families we work alongside.