21 May 2001

Royal Courts of Justice

The family of Roger Sylvester, who died after being restrained by Metropolitan police officers in January 1999, is to go to the High Court on Monday 21 May. This is part of their judicial review challenging the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service (in November 2000) not to bring any criminal charges against any of the officers involved in his death.

A High Court Judge gave permission for the judicial review to go ahead on 6 April 2001. A full hearing is expected in June. Meanwhile, on 21 May, the family is seeking disclosure of the relevant material arising from the Essex Constabulary investigation that the Metropolitan Police, the owners of the documents, have refused to disclose since his death.

At a meeting in March the Home Secretary took the unusual step of writing to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John Stevens, to ask him to reconsider his decision not to disclose any material arising from the investigation. No disclosure has as yet been forthcoming.

At Monday’s hearing the family lawyer, Ian McDonald QC, will argue that without disclosure the High Court can not properly consider the family’s challenge of the CPS decision because they will not have the benefit of all the relevant witness statements, post-mortem reports and other material. The Director of Public Prosecutions, David Calvert Smith QC, is refusing disclosure.

The family has had no access to public funds for their legal representation at this hearing and has had to pay for it itself. In contrast the Director of Public Prosecutions, receives public funding for his legal representation.

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST, who has been working with the Sylvester family said: “From the start this case has been shrouded in obsessive secrecy. It is abundantly clear that the Metropolitan Police do not want this case exposed to public scrutiny and be held to account. They have wilfully ignored a key recommendation of the Lawrence Inquiry by refusing to disclose any information whatsoever to the family. This has exacerbated the family’s suffering in their search for the truth about how Roger Sylvester died.”