‘We are pleased that we have a critical narrative verdict. It’s been an extremely difficult time for the family since my brother died at the hands of Thames Valley Police. What is so hard to accept is that it has taken almost seven years for an inquest to be completed into his death. All these years of fighting has taken a tremendous toll on the family.’
Yesterday was the last day of the inquest so after exactly one month from the first day of the proceedings we were finally at the end. It’s been a tough experience for the family but has given some closure as this time the inquest actually completed.
If the final verdict/conclusion was not entirely what we wanted, what was special was the amount of support that we received over the month.
The jury came to a decision at the end of the morning and we were alerted at 1.45pm and we were asked by the Coroner’s Officer to come into the Courtroom. The family room that we had allocated was where we retreated when the court was in recess and where our legal team shared their thoughts and worked with us. It was our base for the whole month and where our visitors were welcomed and gave us some refuge from the intensity of the court.
The jury came to a conclusion of a critical misadventure and narrative conclusion that in particular focussed on the use of force used, the techniques and the level of care that was given to him when he became unconsciousness. The family were disappointed that misadventure featured in the way it has but the breakdown of the key failings by the police was damning and will be helpful for the next steps that we are considering.
It was very tense in the courtroom and we had a number of family members, friends and supporters present. The Coroner issued the record of the inquest and the chosen jury spokesperson read through their conclusions. We looked at each in stunned silence and even the young lads who had come to support and wanted to make a bit of noise were quiet. As the answers to the questions that were put to the jury were read out, there were reactions from the public gallery and from the family. As the Coroner’s Officer declared the inquest closed we were still in shock at what the verdict meant and what it could mean. An announcement was made by the campaign that the family would first convene to the family room and then face the press/media outside.
We had prepared statements to read and in the absence of Nasrit, Habib’s sister and our spokesperson Zia Ullah his cousin read out our reaction to the verdict/conclusion. Some of the young lads who were there helped to hold the campaign banner as he spoke. We were pleased that we had a good crowd of supporters’ present, local people who had backed us all the way from day one, some women who were supporting Auntie and Mussarat Habib’s wife as they faced the media. We were also particularly pleased that Marci Rigg sister of Sean Rigg who died in August 2008 at the hands of the Met police in Brixton Police Station was with us.
We had local and national media present and over the last few days we have had coverage on ITV, BBC radio and online and Press TV UK did an excellent TV spot. We also had reporters from local press in High Wycombe and Slough who have been covering the inquest most days. We even had a Spanish TV channel turn up! Through INQUEST we have issued a media statement that went out fairly quickly after the verdict was announced. We are thankful for their support during this inquest and for helping to manage the media side of things at the end of the inquest.
The family are now waiting for the Thames Valley Police misconduct hearings to begin and have instigated a civil claim against the Force on the basis of assault and breaches of Article 2 Right to Life. The police have themselves issued a statement confirming the hearings.
We would like to thank EVERYONE who attended over the last month. There were some people who attended almost every day and others who just came for one or two days. We would also like to thank individuals for all the messages of support that we received from people who knew Paps and went to school with him, from strangers who were just surprised and shocked at how long we have been fighting, and from the family justice campaigns across the country. As we say those who know it feel it and it’s been a tremendous source of strength and support for us through these trying times. Please continue to follow us via this website or on Facebook and Twitter where we regularly put up updates about campaigns and policing issues.
We’d also like to thank Zinzi Eka-Naphtali in particular from the Family Web Pages Collective who help to run this website for us and other family campaign websites. Her advice and support this month has been amazing.
Still some way to go and remember we ain’t done yet! #7YearsStillNoJustice
Saqib Deshmukh, Justice4Paps