9th December 2013

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has announced that it has re-opened the investigation into the death of Sean Rigg.  Sean Rigg died in police custody in Brixton in 2008. Following his inquest in 2012, the jury returned a damning narrative verdict.  Following the verdict the IPCC announced a review of its own investigation led by Dr Silvia Casale, the report of which was published in May 2013

Marcia Rigg, Sean's sister, said on behalf of the Rigg family:

“The Rigg family welcomes the long awaited decision by the IPCC to reopen the investigation into Sean's death as a criminal one. We will accept nothing less than for this new investigation to be robust, transparent and properly effective.

"It is over five years since Sean died and we therefore expect the IPCC to devote the necessary resource to ensure an early outcome to their new investigation. The family understands that the police do not oppose the IPCC reinvestigation, but the police have also told the IPCC that it can only lawfully reinvestigate the officers in question and make fresh recommendations on disciplinary action after a High Court decision to formally set aside the outcome of the 2008-2009 investigation. If this is right, there is something wrong with the Police Reform Act 2002 and we will be asking for cross-party agreement to urgently change the law with immediate effect to enable the IPCC to lawfully hold reinvestigations of this kind, especially after inquests. What the family cannot tolerate is for a legal side issue to hold up this reinvestigation or threaten its outcome. Therefore, we may be forced into bringing the matter before the High Court ourselves.

"No family should ever have to go through the burden of losing a loved one in police custody and then find that the legal system fails them time and time again. No family should have to tolerate delay upon delay in the independent investigation of a death at the hands of state agents. We and our legal team have always insisted that the IPCC should have conducted a full and thorough criminal investigation into Sean's death right from the very outset. This time the IPCC must get it right.

"We hope that the compelling evidence will lead to criminal charges against the officers involved in Sean's arrest, restraint and detention and ultimately his death. No officer has ever been successfully prosecuted for a death in custody in this country since 1969.  Implausible and improbable accounts by officers should be taken very seriously by the IPCC in any death in custody investigation. We trust that the IPCC will now finally vindicate the family's concerns."

Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:

“It took four years for the family to hear the truth at inquest of how Sean died. It then took a further nine months for an independent review to vindicate their concerns about the IPCC investigation that was so at odds with the evidence heard at inquest. And now, six months later, the IPCC has finally announced it is to reinvestigate his death.

“The IPCC must move quickly and ensure an effective and thorough new investigation. It is absolutely imperative that this family is not forced to endure any more long delays.  Delayed justice is in nobody's interest.  Such delays in holding the state to account for potential criminality and wrongdoing as a result of a flawed investigation must not happen again.”