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Officer cleared of Sean Rigg perjury now faces charges

KILLED: Sean Rigg

A POLICE officer who escaped charges of perjury during an investigation into the death of Sean Rigg has now been summoned back to court.

Sean Rigg was 40 years old when he died in Brixton police station, south London, in August 2008.

Officers failed to identify Rigg, a musician who suffered from schizophrenia as a vulnerable person and restrained him for eight minutes.

An inquest into his death in 2012 found that the arresting officers had used “unsuitable force” when they restrained him, which ultimately led to his death.

Sgt Paul White claimed in a sworn statement that he had attended to Rigg in the police van before he was bought to the area outside the custody suite.

The evidence at the centre of the investigation is CCTV footage that showed the statements to be incorrect suggesting that Rigg was not checked by the custody sergeant as he remained detained in a police van.

White and officer Mark Harratt were arrested last year by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigators on suspicion of perverting the course of justice, lying while under oath and collusion.

They were later cleared by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of perjury due to insufficient evidence.

In their official assessment at the time, the CPS explained: "Taking all of these factors into consideration, in relation to his interview seven months after Mr. Rigg’s death, we have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prove that the answers given were not mistakes and there is insufficient evidence to show that the custody sergeant had an intention to pervert the course of justice.”

Following the ruling, Rigg's sister, Marcia Rigg-Samuel, said the decision would cause the family further anguish.

She told the BBC: "I don't know how they could possibly have come to this decision, but I will keep on fighting.

"My family is surprised and bitterly disappointed by today's decision by the CPS. We categorically do not accept this decision, which only serves as further upset and anguish."

However, after reviewing the case under the recently introduced CPS Victims' Right to Review (VRR) scheme, the CPS has decided to “now bring criminal proceedings against police officer Paul White for perjury following the investigation into the evidence given by the officer at the inquest concerning the death of Sean Rigg.”

In a statement, 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."

The Metropolitan police said they had continued to “fully co-operate with two independent investigations by the Independent Police Complaints Commission following the death of Sean Rigg in 2008”, but noted it “would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

White will appear before Westminster Magistrates Court on September 8, 2015.

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