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Inquiry into death of Sheku Bayoh hears officer deny wanting to join BNP

A police officer involved in the arrest of Sheku Bayoh has denied wanting to join a far-right organisation as a teenager.

The pre-recorded testimony of Alan Paton, who has since retired from Police Scotland, was played to the inquiry into the death of Bayoh, which occurred in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in 2015 while he was being detained by police.

During the 20-minute recording, Paton denied claims he wanted to join the British National party as a teenager, and also denied making racist remarks to an Asian family who lived near him and using other racist language.

Paton described the claims, made by his sister Karen Swan, as “not true in its entirety” and “an entire lot of made-up nonsense”.

Bayoh, 31, died after he was restrained on the ground by multiple officers. The inquiry into his death is examining whether race was a factor.

Paton and fellow officer Craig Walker were first on the scene after reports Bayoh had been carrying a knife and attacking vehicles.

The inquiry has previously heard that when they arrived, they rapidly deployed their incapacitant sprays on unarmed Bayoh, and Walker said the gas engineer was “clearly in some sort of rage or zombie stare”.

Sheku Bayoh died after he was restrained on the ground by multiple officers. Photograph: Family Handout/PA

In the recording played to the inquiry, Angela Grahame KC read out a statement from Swan which said: “I would like to go back to when Alan was a teenager. My mum told me at the time that Alan has said he wanted to join the BNP and she had told him she would disown him if he did.

“Alan used to make racist remarks to the Asian family that lived round the corner. He was never violent towards them but he was quite vocal.

“If they passed by him he would make racist comments towards them. I don’t know anything else about him joining the BNP.”

Paton denied the claims, and said: “The entire paragraph’s not true. I’ve got nothing further to add than what I have in my statement that was submitted a few days ago.”

Asked by the inquiry chair, Lord Bracadale, if he had joined the far-right BNP, Paton told him “No”.

A statement from Paton’s brother-in-law Barry Swan was also read to the inquiry. He said his wife had told him Paton had wanted to join the BNP when he was 16.

The inquiry was told Swan said: “There was a few comments, or off-the-cuff remarks, made by Alan over the early years which I took to be jovial and humorous.”

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He said there was “no malice or vindictiveness surrounding these comments”.

Paton denied making such remarks.

The former police officer told the inquiry that Bayoh, a father of two, “uttered not one word” while he was being restrained in Hayfield Road.

Paton said: “From my initial engagement with him to the conclusion of my involvement, he remained silent. The only screams I heard was that of [police officer] Nicole Short.”

He was read the witness statement of Ashley Wise, who saw the arrest, which said she saw “a man going down to the ground with about six police officers around him” and that “the man kept making roaring noises and shouting something similar to ‘Get off me’”.

Paton said she was mistaken and that Bayoh did not make the noise.

The inquiry continues.

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