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Mcleod family get 'unreserved apology' from Scotland's Lord Advocate at meeting in Wick

By Gordon Calder

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Scotland's senior legal officer has made "an unreserved apology" to the family of Caithness man Kevin Mcleod, whose body was found in Wick harbour 25 years ago.

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC made her comments at a meeting in the town's Norseman Hotel with Kevin's father Hugh and uncle Allan Mcleod this week.

She said: "I am grateful for the opportunity to meet Kevin Mcleod’s family to offer them an unreserved apology.

"They suffered a devastating loss and then were let down during the early investigations into Kevin’s death.

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

"The communication they had with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service afterwards also fell below the standard they were entitled to expect.

"However, the way the Procurator Fiscal investigates sudden deaths has changed significantly from 1997, particularly over the last 10 years.

"I know the service is committed to learning from the mistakes made in this case and to continue to improve the way it works. I gave the family my personal assurance that any lessons that could be learned from their experiences, would be."

She explained that the findings of the full case review undertaken by Merseyside Police were outlined at the meeting and added: "While a push could not be ruled out, there is nothing to indicate that Kevin had any enemies as he was a well-liked young man of good character.

"We have agreed to meet with the family, Police Scotland and Merseyside Police again to address some further questions raised at the meeting."

Afterwards, Allan Mcleod, speaking on behalf of the family, pointed out that Kevin’s mother June was unable to attend Wednesday's meeting due to recent surgery.

He said: "We thanked the Lord Advocate for travelling to Wick to visit the family and for offering us an unreserved apology and full and frank admission regarding the Crown’s failures over many years, and recognition of what a pernicious and devastating effect that has had on the family.

"She also accepted that the Crown had a duty of care which had clearly been breached. We informed those at the meeting of how the family had served a 25-year life sentence due to the catalogue of failures, mistakes, abdications of responsibility and miscommunications by the police and the Crown throughout the majority of those 25 years. We brought several on-going concerns to the Lord Advocate's attention which she assured us will be addressed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Merseyside and Police Scotland. We were assured these concerns will be robustly investigated and that a further meeting will be arranged for October or November."

Kevin’s family have fought for over a quarter of a century to find out what happened to him. They believe he was murdered after a night out in the town in February 1997 because of the serious injuries on his body but police at the time claimed his death was a tragic accident. The Mcleods also pointed out the then procurator fiscal at Wick instructed the police to investigate the case as murder.

Earlier this year, a report into the case by Merseyside Police concluded it was "highly unlikely" the 24-year-old was murdered and said he drowned after an accidental fall.

The Merseyside officers, who spent months re-examining the case, found no evidence of any criminality.

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