23 July 1997

After today’s decision in the High court, Deborah Coles, Co-Director of INQUEST said: `The unprecedented admission by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Police Complaints Authority that they failed to give proper consideration to all the evidence in the case of the death of Shiji Lapite is a shocking indictment of the way in which the authorities treat deaths in custody.'

'The decision confirms what INQUEST’s 17 years of monitoring deaths in custody has demonstrated about the unwillingness of the DPP and PCA to bring charges against police officers whose conduct has led to death or serious injury. It is scandalous that it has been left to the bereaved family to pursue these bodies through the courts to ensure that justice is done and police officers are called to account for their actions.'

'How can ordinary citizens have confidence in the current system for investigating deaths in custody when it takes this kind of effort and determination to ensure that proper attention and scrutiny is given to such a serious case? The DPP and the PCA now have the opportunity to fully scrutinise the evidence before them and to send a clear message to bereaved families and the wider public that these deaths do matter and that police officers will be subject to the full force of the law.'