An independent review into the death of a man in Wick nearly 25 years ago was ordered because Police Scotland were not providing enough information, it has emerged.
The body of Kevin Mcleod was found in the town’s harbour on February 9, 1997.
His family has spent years campaigning for his death to be investigated as a murder.
Merseyside Police were asked to carry out an independent review into the case in 2019.
The minutes of a meeting between Kevin’s father Hugh and deputy crown agent Lindsey Miller have now revealed why the case review was handed to the English police force in the first place.
‘The Crown had concerns’
Having initially been told that a review was being carried out by Police Scotland and the Criminal Allegations Against the Police Division (CAAPD), Hugh asked why it was now in the hands of Merseyside Police.
Ms Miller replied: “CAAPD raised concerns with me that the police were not providing all of the information needed.
“That was then raised with the chief constable and that the Crown had concerns about this review.
“That’s why it was then sent to Merseyside to deal with.”
Kevin’s uncle, Allan Mcleod, said the family were “stunned” by the response.
He said: “My family could never fathom why Police Scotland had invited Merseyside Police to conduct an independent review of Kevin’s death when a review by the CAAPD was still ongoing.
“It beggars belief that if the CAAPD had concerns that Police Scotland were failing – or refusing – to provide all the information they requested, then why did the Lord Advocate not intervene?
“No family in Scotland should have to fight for the truth or be treated with contempt by the authorities.”
Review findings could be made public within weeks
The Merseyside Police review has now concluded and Kevin’s family is anxiously awaiting the results.
They are likely to be made public in a matter of weeks.
It could provide some long-awaited answers.
Kevin was initially ruled to have drowned after suffering internal injuries from a fall.
At the time, local police said his death was “accidental”.
But his family always believed there was more to it.
In 2017, police chiefs finally admitted legacy force Northern Constabulary had failed by not treating the death as murder.
This was despite a specific instruction from prosecutors to do so.
Police have since apologised for failures in the handling of the case.
How have police responded to the latest revelations?
Asked to respond to Ms Miller’s comments to Kevin’s family, assistant chief constable John Hawkins said: “The chief constable commissioned Merseyside Police to carry out this review in September 2019 and I would like to thank them for carrying out this lengthy piece of work so comprehensively.
“We will take time to carefully study the review. Our thoughts remain with Kevin’s family and friends at this time.
“As this document has now been delivered to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service we are unable to comment further.”
A spokesman for the Crown Office said “a great deal of work” has gone into the Merseyside Police review.
He added: “We are considering its contents.
“Senior prosecutors are in contact with the Mcleod family every six weeks. They will keep them informed of the progress we make.
“When we have fully considered the review we will meet with the family to discuss the findings.”