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Police disciplinary exposes further flaws in the investigation of racist murder in Brighton 


The family of Jay Abatan, a black man who was murdered in a racist attack in January 1999 are still seeking justice as his murderers have not faced trial.  An internal tribunal earlier this year resulted in minimal disciplinary action against the Detective Superintendent who presided over the case.   

A further tribunal this week has been called after the family raised concerns including the fact that a Sussex police officer gave good character evidence for the defendants in court.  The family were not made aware of the relationships between the defendants and Sussex police before the court case. Jay Abatan's family are concerned that  the disciplinary is not addressing this matter.  It has exposed further flaws in the case, including the fact that the police did not set up an incident room or use a holmes computer – which are standard practice on murder cases. Similar cases were given incident rooms.  Officers in the tribunal have said they were told to work on other priorities, to work on Jay’s murder investigation “in their downtime” and no overtime was allowed.

During the case, the family's complaints initiated two inquiries which lead to the replacement of the original investigating team. Media reports on these inquiries also highlighted  serious flaws in the case.

The family are demanding the release of the Avon and Somerset report into the first investigation. The IPCC identified systematic failings in the investigation, and states that this report highlights general failings by the investigating team and senior management. The report has so far, been denied to the family.

Michael Abatan, brother of Jay Abatan, said: “Sussex police’s own tribunals concluded that there were serious organisational failings in the investigation of my brother’s racist murder.  These failings have national implications. The Home Secretary told us early on that Sussex police had been thorough in the investigation but we believe Sussex police mislead the Home Secretary by suggesting a number of reviews had taken place to address their concerns when none had been carried out at that stage. I do not want to see another family go through what we have been throughWe are demanding the release of the police reports which, when leaked to the press, highlighted serious failings. These reports are now a matter of national public interest.”

Lee Jasper, Secretary of the National Assembly Against Racism said “ This case exposes that Black people are still being treated as second class citizens by the police. Jay Abatan’s murder investigation was happening as the Lawrence inquiry report was being published, yet the investigation contains many of the same failings which meant the Lawrence family were denied justice. We need more than a few internal tribunals to bring Jay’s murderers to court – we support the family’s call for the release of the police reports”

Mark Serwotka, Public & Commercial Services, General Secretary said:  “The recommendations from the Macpherson Inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence were supposed to set new standards for operation of the state and its relationship with vulnerable minority groups. Jay’s case represents another vivid illustration of the Police still failing in its duty to treat black people respectfully and fairly. PCS fully supports the Abatan Campaign.”  


June 2005


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