Sean Rigg family livid after 'restraint' police officer resigns

10:00am Friday 30th May 2014

By Sophia Sleigh

A police officer involved in the restraint of Sean Rigg, who later died in custody, has resigned ahead of a disciplinary investigation.

Mr Rigg’s family are now calling on the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to withdraw acceptance of PC Andrew Birks resignation.

Wandsworth Guardian:

Sean Rigg died at the age of 40

Mr Rigg, 40, a musician from Tooting, died in Brixton police station in August 2008 following prolonged police restraint during which PC Birks was the senior arresting officer.

Mr Rigg suffered from schizophrenia and had been arrested for attacking passers-by in Balham.

His sister, Marcia Rigg-Samuel, from Tooting, said her family were livid after hearing the news.

She said: “There is no doubt in our minds that this decision by PC Birks was taken to avoid the risk of him being held accountable for his conduct towards Sean and acquiring a disciplinary record, possibly for gross misconduct.

“It was wrong for the commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, to accept his resignation. He was wholly aware of the position PC Birks was in.

Marcia during a protest in 2012: “I’ve not written a speech because I can just speak from my heart.”

“The delays in this case, the failure to suspend officers and this resignation of PC Birks, if it does take effect on 1 June 2014, are outrageous and destroy public confidence in the police complaints system.

“It is almost six years since Sean's death, and almost two years since the inquest and the jury's damning verdict.  Our family should not be denied justice and accountability any longer.”

In August 2012, the jury at the inquest into Sean Rigg’s death heavily criticised the actions of the police and the unsuitable use of restraint. 

Since then, an independent review criticised the original IPCC investigation and the IPCC made the decision to re-open the disciplinary and criminal investigations into Mr Rigg’s death.

Wandsworth Guardian:

Mr Rigg's family at his iunquest 

In April 2014, PC Birks together with the other officers involved signed a consent order agreeing to an IPCC disciplinary re-investigation.

However the resignation of PC Birks was tendered and accepted before the IPCC were able to serve him with notices under the misconduct regulations. 

Mr Rigg’s family have written to the commissioner asking him to immediately withdraw his acceptance and have called on the IPCC to take action.

The family hope the decision is reversed but if not they are considering taking court action.

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