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Police Scotland chief backs public inquiry into Emma Caldwell murder

Police Scotland chief backs public inquiry into Emma Caldwell murder

The head of Police Scotland has backed calls from the mother of Emma Caldwell for a public inquiry into the botched investigation into her murderer.

Chief Constable Jo Farrell apologised to Margaret Caldwell and her family for failures in policing in 2005, when the 27-year-old was killed.

Iain Packer, 51, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 36 years last week after being convicted of murdering the sex worker.

He was also found guilty of 11 charges of rape against nine women and convicted of 21 other charges following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow, and is believed to be Scotland’s worst sex offender.

He has lodged an appeal against all convictions and his sentence.

Packer committed 19 of his crimes after murdering Miss Caldwell, “believing he had lifelong immunity” due to police inaction, a press conference with her family on Wednesday was told.

Emma Caldwell murder court case
Iain Packer was last week found guilty of murdering Emma Caldwell in 2005 (Police Scotland/PA)

Mrs Caldwell’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said Packer is now “irrelevant to the family”, and their focus is on the authorities.

Mr Anwar called for two senior police officers to be held to account and called for Crown immunity to be waived at a public inquiry, opening the door to prosecution.

Ms Farrell praised the “courage, resilience, and determination” of Miss Caldwell’s family.

Mr Anwar said the family dismissed the Crown Office’s investigation which found no criminality from police officers as “unbelievable, untenable and disrespectful”, and reiterated Mrs Caldwell’s commitment to “the truth”.

He said: “Emma’s family believe it is not only Iain Packer who evaded justice for nearly 19 years, but police officers who betrayed the most fundamental duty of all, to protect life.

Emma Caldwell murder
Lawyer Aamer Anwar delivers a statement, alongside Margaret Caldwell, left (Jane Barlow/PA)

“The family are grateful that the chief constable has stated she fully supports their demands for a public inquiry, that is the only way that the police service of Scotland and former officers can ever truly be held to account.”

He added that any officers found to have broken the law should face a jail term, and said the scale of “the crimes and the failures are so catastrophic that nothing less than a public inquiry will suffice”.

Mr Anwar said: “The conduct of the police from 2005 until 2016 can only be described as the worst scandal in our legal history.”

He said a £4 million surveillance operation on a Turkish cafe led to four suspects appearing in court accused of the murder, which collapsed due to issues with interpretation, coincided with a decision to cease investigations into Packer in 2007, although he had taken officers to the site where Miss Caldwell’s body was found.

Mr Anwar added: “When Margaret said police officers had blood on their hands, she very much included one of the UK’s most senior officers Stephen House as well as William Rae, who was chief constable when Emma was murdered.

“From 2007, Mr House presided over years of the misery that saw multiple women raped and a killer emboldened by a belief that he had lifelong immunity.

“If there is no time limit on justice, then any officers suspected of criminality must be prosecuted and those in our criminal justice system including Crown Office should finally be held to account.

Emma Caldwell murder
Emma Caldwell was murdered in 2005 but her attacker was free to offend for another 19 years (family handout/PA)

“Whatever the job, addictions or vulnerabilities of Emma Caldwell or the 22 women who gave evidence, it should never have been used as a justification for sexual violence or to treat them as second-class citizens.”

Ms Farrell said: “Emma Caldwell, her family, and many other victims, were let down by policing in 2005. I am sorry. I offered that apology personally to Emma’s family today and I am grateful they gave me the opportunity and to listen to their perspective and experience.

“I understand when they say the conviction brings no joy, elation or closure but that it simply allows Emma’s mother Margaret to breathe again.

“It is important that Emma’s family and the public get answers to the many questions they have. I therefore support the family’s calls for a public inquiry. I absolutely commit that Police Scotland will fully participate in any further proceedings.

“We have reflected and learned from the initial investigation and subsequent re-investigation. Significant changes have been made to improve organisational culture and response, particularly in respect of investigative structures, victim care and processes to these types of crimes.”

Mrs Caldwell and her family are due to meet the Lord Advocate on Thursday in Edinburgh.

It was understood a ministerial statement is expected later at Holyrood.

A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “This week the Lord Advocate will meet with Emma’s family and their solicitor to answer questions about the investigation and criminal proceedings.

“We feel that to respect this meeting it would not be appropriate to comment publicly on matters which should be discussed first with Emma’s family.

“However, we can confirm a previous statement that following a full independent investigation, Crown counsel concluded that there was insufficient evidence of criminality on the part of any police officer involved in the investigation of Emma Caldwell’s murder.

“As in all cases, the Crown reserved the right to proceed in the future should further evidence become available.”