Justice for Jay Abatan

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2013 National Black Members' Conference
17 September 2012

Brothers Michael and Jay Abatan went to a Brighton nightclub with a friend to celebrate Jay’s job promotion in January 1999. They were the victims of a violent assault as they waited for a taxi at the end of the night. After five days in intensive care, Jay died as a result of his injuries.

Jay’s family have tirelessly campaigned for justice, in a case which echoes the failings of the investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. The investigation, which has been heavily criticised by the Police’s own reports, took place as the Stephen Lawrence report was published, finding institutional racism in the Met police.

Although suspects were caught only 2 were prosecuted for affray and for actual bodily harm on Michael. During the trial, the judge said that the jury shouldn’t be told that Jay had died as a result of the attack as it might influence the verdict. Michael was crying in the witness box and the jury sent a note to the judge asking where Jay was. The judge said they shouldn’t concern themselves with Jay’s medical report. The 2 suspects were acquitted.

After pressure from the family Sussex police eventually called in Essex police to review their investigation. Only the summary of their report was released, but it was damning. It catalogued 57 failings and inconsistencies in the investigation – including failing even to record witnesses’ details. After the Essex report, Sussex police finally said they were treating the case as a racist attack – at first they said it wasn’t – and replaced the entire investigation team. They also put in a complaint against themselves with the Police Complaints Authority.

In 2004 Michael said “I don’t think the authorities have learnt from the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. Rather than just paying lip service, things should be happening on the ground. After losing his first-born, my father just gave up. Eleven months after Jay’s death, he died. We’re proud people and we’re going to make sure that Jay is not left outside the Ocean Rooms, lying on the floor, without justice. When Jay’s attackers see me in the street they wave and laugh. They haven’t shown any remorse. In Nigeria the bond between brothers is particularly strong and I promised him that I would try to get justice.”

This Conference calls on the NBMC to work with the NEC:

1)To support and affiliate to the campaign to achieve justice for Jay Abatan and his family and

2)To donate £1,000 towards the campaign.