The parents of a 24-year-old man found dead in a harbour 21 years ago are “devastated” by a delay in a probe to discover why police failed to act on an instruction to treat the death as murder.
Electrician Kevin Mcleod was recovered from the water at Wick Harbour in Caithness in February 1997.
Police Scotland revealed earlier this year they were interviewing 15 potential witnesses following new information.
This was welcomed by Mr Mcleod’s parents, Hugh and June, but they fear a “cover up” over progress in the investigation into why police did not follow an instruction from the Procurator Fiscal at the time to investigate the case as murder.
They have written to Elish Angionli, Sctotland’s former Lord Advocate who is currently reviewing “Complaints Handling” by the police.
Earlier this year, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) said the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) should probe why a former Chief Constable, Graham Gormley, did not act on the instruction of the Procurator Fiscal at the time to treat the death as a murder case.
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Their conclusion following a complaint from the family stated: “We conclude that the SPA has not handled this complaint to a reasonable standard.
“We recommend the SPA takes into account our observations. This further response should explain as to why Chief Constable Gormley did not pass this specific instruction”.
The Pirc recommendation was issued on May 23, with an instruction the family should receive a response within 56 days.”
They are still waiting.
The family’s complaint said: “CC Gormley failed to instruct Police Scotland to thoroughly investigate why Northern Constabulary had, on 10 February 1997, deliberately ignored and failed to act on the Procurator Fiscal’s instruction to investigate our son Kevin’s death potentially as a murder enquiry.”
The parents said last night: “The integrity and mishandling surrounding this issue by current and former members of the SPA we find to be unprofessional, disrespectful and very sinister to say the least towards a grieving family’s 21 year campaign for truth and justice.
“The failure by legacy force Northern Constabulary to act on the Procurator Fiscal’s instruction to investigate Kevin’s death as murder and immediately destroying Kevin’s clothing we believe was a conscious and wilful criminal act which was subsequently covered up by all the agencies.
“Questions remain unanswered. Why did Northern Constabulary’s chain of command ignore and fail to act on the Procurator Fiscal’s instruction to investigate Kevin’s death as murder?
“Why did Northern Constabulary immediately destroy Kevin’s clothing without being forensically tested during what should have been a murder enquiry?”
Mr and Mrs Mcleod said last night: “The initial police investigation into Kevin’s death was over before it began on the very same day that the PF had issued his murder inquiry instruction.
“There have been numerous sinister issues by all the authorities involved in this case from the very outset and the family are determined that we are not going away until the whole truth has been exposed.”
In a letter to the family, PIRC said: “This delay by the SPA in implementing the recommendation to provide the family with a full response is completely unacceptable. It’s horrendous that the family should have to wait so long to get answers.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Police Authority said: “We understand the Mcleod family’s frustration at the time it has taken to implement the PIRC’s recommendation, which has arisen because of the need to make a number of additional enquiries into the complaints.
“Efforts are being made to complete these enquiries as quickly as possible, and in the meantime we shall continue to liaise with the Mcleod family and the PIRC.”
In an email from PIRC regarding the Scottish Police Authority’s “unacceptable” delay in implementing the recommendation, a spokesman said: “Whilst the circumstances of Mr A’s death have been re-assessed, there is no specific information to suggest that the legacy force’s alleged failure to carry out an instruction from the Crown has been re-examined.
“In light of the correspondence between the family and Police Scotland, it appears reasonable that the family of Mr A had been given an expectation that all their concerns would be taken into account and that all matters would be considered.
“However, the response to the applicants fails to provide an adequate explanation as to why this specific concern was not addressed or investigated.
“We therefore consider that the SPA has failed to address the crux of the applicants complaint. For this reason, we conclude that the complaint has not been handled to reasonable standard”.
They add: “We conclude that the SPA has not handled this complaint to a reasonable standard.
“We recommend the SPA takes into account our observations above and issue the applicants with a further response.
“This further response should explain as to why Chief Constable Gormley did not pass this specific instruction.”