15th August 2012

In a highly unusual move, the Independent Police Complaints Commission announced today that it has commissioned an independent external review of its investigation into the death of Sean Rigg, at the same time as it publishes its report of that investigation.

The family and INQUEST welcome the decision to hold this review. The IPCC report reflects a deeply flawed investigation. The flimsy findings of the IPCC report are in stark contrast to the highly critical and far reaching findings of the inquest jury which delivered a damning narrative verdict on 1 August 2012.

Central flaws in the IPCC investigation included the failure to secure comprehensive first accounts from any of the relevant officers for over six months, despite the IPCC being in attendance at Brixton police station just hours after Sean Rigg’s death, and the failure to test officer accounts against photographic and CCTV evidence.

Sean Rigg’s family said:

“The family of Sean Rigg are delighted that after listening to and analysing the evidence at Sean’s inquest, a jury of 11 ordinary people found his mental health care team, SLAM, and the officers’ actions ‘more than minimally contributed to his death’. The officers’ actions in particular were severely criticised by the jury.

“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. For the IPCC to conclude in their findings that ‘the officers adhered to policy and good practice by monitoring Mr Rigg in the back of the van’ is absolutely absurd, flies in the face of the evidence and clearly contradicts the jury’s narrative verdict.

“The family therefore welcome an external review of the IPCC’s original investigation by someone that is truly independent. However, we absolutely insist that the review is 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.”

Helen Shaw, co-director of INQUEST said:

“The contrast between the highly critical inquest jury verdict and the two insubstantial findings of the IPCC report could not be clearer. It should not have taken an inquest to discover some basic facts, such as the restraint of Sean Rigg in the prone position lasting several minutes, rather than seconds according to officer accounts which were accepted by the IPCC.

“The disparity is a clear indication of the wider systemic problems with the poor quality of too many IPCC investigations into deaths in custody. It is vitally important that both the external review of this investigation and the long awaited review of their whole approach to such investigations marks a sea change. 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.”


Notes to editor:

  1. The full jury verdict is available here
  2. The IPCC report is available on their website.
  3. The family of Sean Rigg were represented by INQUEST Lawyers Groupmembers Leslie Thomas and Thomas Stoate of Garden Court Chambers and Daniel Machover and Helen Stone of Hickman and Rose Solicitors.