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'A catalogue of failings' over way police and Crown investigated Wick death to be discussed at meeting with Lord Advocate

By Gordon Calder

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THE family of Kevin Macleod, whose body was found in Wick harbour nearly 26 years ago, is to meet Scotland's senior law officer next week to discuss "a catalogue of failings" by the police and Crown over the way they investigated his death.

The 24-year-old died after a night out in the town in February 1997. His patents, Hugh and June Macleod and his uncle Allan Macleod believe Kevin was murdered because of the serious injuries on his body but the police claimed his death was a tragic accident.

Earlier this year, a report into the case by Merseyside Police concluded it was "highly unlikely" Kevin was murdered and said he drowned after a fall. The officers, who spent months re-examining the case, found no evidence of any criminality.

However, the Macleods "totally reject the findings" and stress that the then procurator fiscal at Wick instructed the police to investigate the death as a murder enquiry.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Allan Macleod, said the meeting with the Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain and senior crown and police representatives from Merseyside Police and Police Scotland will take place in Edinburgh on Thursday, January 5.

The Lord Advocate (right) met Hugh McLeod (left) and Allan Mcleod at meeting in Wick earlier this year
The Lord Advocate (right) met Hugh McLeod (left) and Allan Mcleod at meeting in Wick earlier this year

Mr Macleod said the meeting – the second since the report was published – is being held to address the concerns the family have regarding "the catalogue of failings" by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the police over the way the case was handled. The Lord Advocate and Police Scotland’s Chief Constable Iain Livingstone have previously offered unreserved apologies to the family for these failures.

"Despite these recent unreserved apologies by the Chief Constable and the Lord Advocate ... we continue to believe that the circumstances surrounding Kevin’s horrific death was, and continues to be, a cover-up for someone or something," said Mr Macleod.

He said it is "shocking and unbelievable" the report by Merseyside Police said they "could not find evidence of any criminal involvement with Kevin’s death" and "no evidence to support the assertion the (then) procurator fiscal instructed a murder enquiry" and that the unreserved apology and letter written in 2017 by then deputy chief constable Iain Livingstone may have been "an attempt to appease the family". That would be "wholly demeaning," they said.

The Macleods say Kevin’s abdominal injuries were consistent with a kicking prior to his death as indicated by the pathologist. They also stress that the then Wick fiscal confirmed in letters to the Cameron Enquiry in 2002 and the family in 2007 that he had instructed police to treat Kevin’s death as a murder inquiry.

"The failure to investigate Kevin’s death as murder as instructed by the procurator fiscal in 1997 was a core and irretrievable error that has undermined every inquiry since, including the 1998 Fatal Accident Inquiry, the 2002 Cameron review and subsequent police enquiries, including the most recent Merseyside Police review.

"It is our opinion that the whole Scottish justice system requires a fundamental overhaul," added Mr Macleod.

He said the family has served a life sentence for almost 26 years due to the "failures, mistakes, abdications of responsibility and miscommunications by the police and the Crown" for much of that time.

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