The 25th anniversary of the racist murder of Jay Abatan has been marked by various events. However, police failures – marred by alleged corruption and institutional racism – mean Jay’s killers have never been brought to justice.
Jay Abatan: 25 years on, and still no justice
Jay Abatan, a black man of mixed Nigerian and British heritage, died on 29 January 1999. His death followed an unprovoked attack by a gang of white men in the early hours of 24 January in Morley Street, Brighton. He was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital with significant head injuries and never regained consciousness. He was placed on life support which was switched off five days later.
29 January 2024 was the 25th anniversary of the death of Jay and still no justice has been served despite the killers being known to the police. This, combined with a catalogue of failures by Sussex Police and failures in the judicial system, mean that twenty-five years on, nobody has been convicted for Jay’s murder.
New evidence that police officers that bungled the case holidayed abroad with suspects has come to light. Yet Sussex police have failed to act upon this.
To mark the 25th anniversary, a well-attended vigil was held outside Brighton Police station on Sunday 28 January. A meeting in the House of Parliament took place on the anniversary, Monday 29 January. It launched a pamphlet about the campaign.
MPs and others show solidarity with Jay and his family
The event was attended by the Abatan family, members of Parliament, representatives from BARAC UK, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), and Brighton and Hove Stand Up to Racism, who are part of the Justice 4 Jay Campaign – plus representatives from various campaign groups and journalists.
Sir Peter Bottomley MP chaired the meeting.
Other MPs in attendance included Bell Ribero-Addy, Claudia Webbe, Jeremy Corbyn, Kim Johnson, Richard Burgon, and Annelise Dodd.
Messages of solidarity were received from MPs who wished to attend but were unable to, due to other business. These included Caroline Lucas who has agreed to table an Early Day Motion (EDM), John McDonnell, Beth Winter, Barry Gardiner, Peter Kyle, and Sam Tarry.
Speakers at the meeting included brother of Jay, who was also attacked at the same time, Michael Abatan, Zita Holbourne (Chair of BARAC UK), and Hector Wesley from the PCS NEC.
Over the 48 hours, the campaign garnered mainstream national, local, and international news coverage.
Taking the campaign for justice forward
Going forward, Justice for Jay will be stepping up the campaign to ensure that justice is served.
There will be an EDM and a series of parliamentary questions tabled. MPs will also be writing to Sussex Police.
There will be formal complaints lodged with the Independent Office for Police Conduct. The campaign will be pursuing a public inquiry and an investigative inquiry, as well as legal action regarding the criminal aspects of the case which include the killing of Jay Abatan but also the physical assault on Michael Abatan.
The Alliance for Police Accountability are supporting the Justice for Jay campaign. A fundraiser has been launched, administered by BARAC UK, to raise money towards legal fees.
How can I support Justice for Jay Abatan?
- Messages of solidarity and information relating to the case, can be sent to: justiceforjayabatan(at)outlook.com and barac.info(at)gmail.com
- Join the Justice for Jay Facebook page here.
- Donate towards the legal fundraiser here.
- Write to the Sussex police and crime commissioner, calling for a new public inquiry into the killing of Jay Abatan – pcc(at)sussex-pcc.gov.uk
- Download the pamphlet in electronic form here.
- Write to your MP asking them to sign the EDM (once it is tabled).
- Invite a speaker from the campaign to your trade union/organisation AGMs, branch meetings, and conferences.
Jay Abatan’s family ‘need answers’
Michael Abatan, brother of Jay Abatan, said:
The new witness coming forward shows that it is not too late to get justice for my brother. I have been humbled by all the support I have received and thank everyone mentioned in this statement.
It has been a long fight for the truth which is yet to come out. I will continue to keep a clear and open mind and let the evidence speak for itself. I urge anyone with any information to come forward and do the right thing. Injustice for one is injustice for all.
Zita Holbourne, national chair BARAC UK, said:
Twenty-five years is too long for any family to have to dedicate their lives fighting for justice, it is too long to wait to grieve. The Abatan family need and deserve answers, they need justice, and we need to see the killers and those who helped cover up their crime, punished. Justice must be served and we will be working as a community to support the family in ensuring that it is.
Featured image supplied