Riddel family optimistic top lawman will order new probe

James Wolffe warned that the UK could be at risk of becoming a safe haven for criminals who have committed crimes in other countries
James Wolffe warned that the UK could be at risk of becoming a safe haven for criminals who have committed crimes in other countries

A Moray family, concerned by the “dubious” nature of a loved one’s death, are confident of a new investigation after Scotland’s top lawman heard their case.

Margaret and Ian Riddel, from Aultmore, are desperately seeking answers about what happened to their son and brother, Neil, who died in 1991.

Although police stated the 19-year-old committed suicide, his family is convinced he died in custody at Keith Police Station and the circumstances were quickly covered up.

Highlands and Islands MSP, Douglas Ross, yesterday presented the Riddels’ arguments in favour of a fresh inquiry to Scotland’s Lord Advocate, James Wolffe.

The meeting in Edinburgh was also attended by the head of the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit, David Green, and Lindsey Miller, a deputy crown agent.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Ross said: “The meeting allowed me to raise a number of concerns the family still have over the death of Neil Riddel.

“The Lord Advocate has agreed to send me additional information and we will then convene again.”

Last night, Mrs Riddel said she was encouraged by the Lord Advocate’s willingness to continue discussions with the politician and venture into more detail.

She is now hopeful confidential documents, containing witness statements from the night her son died, which have long been withheld from the family, can finally be unsealed.

Mrs Riddel added: “We believe the additional information Mr Ross is being sent will contain details on Neil’s post-mortem which raise some questions about the condition of his brain.”

Ian Riddel said: “We are really pleased with how the meeting went, and grateful to Mr Ross.

“We are sure that if we are able to attend the next one [meeting], there will be some real progress on renewing the investigation.”

The pair were previously left frustrated when the Crown Office ruled they could not attend yesterday’s gathering. But Mr Ross has vowed to ensure that they will be part of ongoing discussions.

He added: “I have made it absolutely clear that a future meeting should include the family, a they need to hear the responses directly from the Lord Advocate and Crown Office officials.”

The police have stressed that several inquiries into Mr Riddel’s death have supported the original version of events.

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