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Breakthrough for Sean Rigg’s family as report condemns earlier investigation

This article is over 10 years, 10 months old
Samantha Rigg-David talked to Judith Orr about how a new report has vindicated her family’s long campaign for justice over her brother Sean’s death
Issue 2354
Samantha Rigg-David campaigning for justice

Samantha Rigg-David campaigning for justice

An investigation that cleared police officers involved in the death of Sean Rigg should be thrown out, according to an independent review.

Sean Rigg died in police custody in Brixton, south London, in 2008.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) ruled that officers had acted reasonably and proportionately. 

But the review said the IPCC had made a series of errors and failed to properly hold police to account.

The IPCC has said it can’t stand over its original findings—and accepted the review in full.

Samantha Rigg-David, Sean’s sister, has been fighting for justice for Sean for the past five years. 

“We feel like we have been vindicated,” she told Socialist Worker. “It’s late but it’s welcome.

“Now we want to see the report’s recommendations implemented. 

“This can’t be just another report—we want the words turned into action.”

An inquest jury last year found that police used unnecessary force against Sean. 

It said that the police action contributed to his death. But that inquest only took place because Sean’s family and supporters campaigned for it.


“If we hadn’t fought, the truth would have been buried,” said Samantha. 

“We sat round the table every day, looking at all the resources we had, planning how we could fight for justice.”

Samantha said that her family has had to fight against lies “at every step”. She explained how the police tried to stop her and other family members from seeing Sean after he died.

“They locked his body behind thick glass,” she said. “When we insisted on getting inside the room it was so small we had to squeeze around him. We found injuries that we hadn’t been told about.”

Samantha described the struggle to get Sean’s death looked into.

“We had many long meetings with the IPCC,” she said. “They used to stare at us blankly for hours and hours. 

“Most of the IPCC investigators used to work for the police. We don’t trust them to hold the police to account. But we kept pushing.”

The fight for justice for Sean Rigg brought his family into contact with other campaigns. It helped them to keep going. “We realised we were not alone,” said Samantha.

“We went to other inquests during our campaign so we could try and understand the process. We met other families in the same situation. They gave us so much advice and support.

“Sometimes you feel like you are in a horror movie. But you have to direct your grief through the campaign.

“Socialist Worker has been there from the start, you have been amazing. 

“We couldn’t have done what we did without the support of campaigners, and the radical lawyers and journalists who cared.”


The review into the IPCC investigation is a big boost for the campaign. But the fight for justice isn’t over.

“Now three police offers have been arrested for perjury,” said Samantha. “That’s good. But what about the rest?

“We want to see all the officers in a criminal court. We are asking for accountability. The police think that they are above the law. 

“We need to keep putting more and more pressure on. This is just the beginning.”

The campaign for justice for Sean Rigg shows that ordinary people can wring concessions from the state. 

It’s a lesson that everyone fighting for justice should take heart from.

“My message to other families is stick together,” said Samantha. “You do sometimes wonder when is this going to end? But you have to take each day at a time.

“Be bold, and pace yourself for a long fight.”


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