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Officer charged with inquest 'lie'

Published 08/07/2015

Sean Rigg died while being held at Brixton Police Station
Sean Rigg died while being held at Brixton Police Station

A police officer is to be charged with lying at the inquest of a man who died in police custody seven years ago.

Musician Sean Rigg, from south London, died while being held at Brixton Police Station on August 21 2008.

The 40-year-old had initially been in a police van for 11 minutes before being transferred into the police station.

Following the investigation into his death, Sergeant Paul White gave evidence at his inquest in July 2012.

In October last year, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute for any criminal offence.

But today, it announced that White would face a charge of perjury after a review of the case under the recently introduced CPS Victims' Right to Review (VRR) scheme.

White, who is on restricted duties, has been summoned to appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court on 8 September.

However, no action is to be brought against a second officer who gave evidence to the inquest.

Mr Rigg's older sister Marcia Rigg-Samuel welcomed the CPS announcement.

She said: "I speak for all my family in asking those involved in this prosecution to ensure that no fear or favour is given to the defendant and that the prosecution goes ahead as speedily as possible.

"I now expect confirmation that PS White has been suspended pending the outcome of the prosecution. I await the decision of the MPS on possible disciplinary charges against PC (Mark) Harratt."

Announcing the decision, Sue Hemming, head of CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: "The CPS Victims' Right to Review scheme allows victims to seek a review of a CPS decision not to prosecute in certain circumstances.

"In this case the complainant's bereaved family were eligible to apply and the case was referred to me to decide if the original decision not to prosecute was correct.

"After careful consideration of the evidence, I have decided that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and that it is in the public interest to charge Paul White with one count of perjury which relates to the evidence he gave at Mr Rigg's inquest and therefore the original decision should be overturned.

"I also considered evidence against another police officer but agreed with the original decision not to prosecute due to insufficient evidence.

"Proceedings are now active and the defendant has the right to a fair trial. It is very important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings."

Scotland Yard released a statement saying it continues to co-operate with two investigations by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The first is a re-investigation into the circumstances of Mr Rigg's death which is still "on-going" and the second relates to evidence given to the 2012 inquest.

The Metropolitan Police has responded to the second IPCC investigation's final report and awaits a response.

On the CPS decision to charge White, the force stated: "We must allow the judicial process to run its course and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage. The officer concerned remains on restricted duties.

"The MPS would again like to emphasise our sympathy to Mr Rigg's family and acknowledge their loss."

Mr Rigg was a "charismatic and ambitious" person who was "gentle and loving by nature", according to the Sean Rigg Justice and Change Campaign website.

He overcame personal difficulties to give back to the Brixton community through mentoring and volunteering work.

As a musician, he produced his first album - Be Brother B Good - in 2007 and set up his own record label Dan Man Records with friends.

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