Inquest opens into the death of Habib Ullah


Friday 30 January 2015

Monday 2 February 2015 at 10 am
before HM Coroner for Buckinghamshire, Richard Hulett
sitting at Beaconsfield Coroners Court, 29 Windsor End, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. HP9 2JJ

The inquest into the death of Habib Ullah will start on Monday 2 February 2015 and is listed for 4 weeks.

Habib “Paps” Ullah, a 39 year old father of three, died when he was stopped and searched by police on 3 July 2008 in the Sharrow Vale area of High Wycombe. In the course of being forcibly restrained, Habib suffered a cardiac arrest. He was taken to hospital but attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

An investigation into his death was carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which cleared the police of wrongdoing.

The first inquest into his death began in December 2010. However, police officers giving evidence admitted, when questioned by the family’s barrister, that they had taken out key passages from their statements on the advice of a Police Federation solicitor. Consequently, the coroner decided to discharge the jury.

The IPCC conducted a further investigation into five police officers, who were each interviewed under criminal caution. The solicitor advising the officers was also interviewed under criminal caution in relation to an offence relating to perverting the course of justice. In February 2014 (three years later), the IPCC finally formally referred the file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The following charges were considered: Manslaughter by gross negligence; Misconduct in public office; S39 Assault; Acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice; and Perjury.

On 8 August 2014 the CPS announced that no charges would be brought against Thames Valley police officers and their solicitor in the case of the death of Habib. A CPS review of the decision reached the same conclusion on 3 December 2014.

The family have waited 6 and a half years to find out how Habib died. They hope that the inquest will conduct a thorough examination of the role of the police officers throughout the incident and the extent to which their actions, and in particular their use of force to restrain Habib, played a part in Habib’s death. 

Nasrit Mahmood, sister of Habib Ullah said:

“We are approaching another inquest into my brother’s death. It’s very disturbing that the first inquest was abandoned due to the police altering their statements. We are ashamed of this system where an inquest has to be re-opened due to the actions of police officers and where we have to wait over 6 years for answers. But we will not give up no matter how many years pass. No justice, no peace!”

Zia Ullah, Justice4Paps said:

“It seems incongruous that we have to wait this long for an inquest process to finish and a verdict to be given. The circumstances surrounding the abandonment of the inquest and the CPS decision not to put the officers on trial makes it feel that we are back to square one in this process. We hope that this inquest will provide us with a verdict that vindicates how we feel and gives us some closure.”

Deborah Coles, Co-Director of INQUEST, said:

“This is a highly contentious death that has raised serious concerns about the investigation and inquest process. It is unacceptable for a family to have to wait over 6 years for an inquest to provide answers as to how their loved one came to die. It is essential that this inquest now ensures proper far reaching scrutiny of the police officers' actions that day.”

Marian Ellingworth, solicitor for the family said:

“My client and the wider family have endured a long and painful wait for this inquest with many twists and turns and delays along the way. Sadly, this has left them with a great sense of disillusionment in the legal processes.  I can only hope that the forthcoming inquest will hold the officers to account and give the family the answers they seek”.

INQUEST has been working with the family of Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah since his death in July 2008.  The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Marian Ellingworth from Tuckers solicitors and Anthony Metzer QC of Goldsmith Chambers.

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