First Minister ‘very open’ to Emma Caldwell family’s call for public inquiry

First Minister Humza Yousaf is “very open” to the call from murder victim Emma Caldwell’s family for a statutory public inquiry into the investigation of her murderer, the Scottish Justice Secretary has said.

Emma Caldwell’s mother, Margaret Caldwell, and family met with the Mr Yousaf and Justice Secretary Angela Constance at the First Minister’s official residence, Bute House in Edinburgh, days after Iain Packer was convicted of the 2005 murder of her 27-year-old daughter, as well as raping and abusing multiple women.

Speaking following the meeting, Ms Constance said she and the First Minister were “very open” to the call for the public inquiry and a “quick decision” would be made.

Emma Caldwell
Emma Caldwell died in 2005 (Family handout/PA)

“The First Minister promised that he will give primary consideration to the family’s demands for a statutory public inquiry, and the Justice Secretary Angela Constance promised to update parliament within days on their decision.”

Mr Anwar said they do not accept there have been significant changes in the police since the 2005 murder.

Police Scotland have apologised to the family of Ms Caldwell and Packer’s other victims, admitting they were “let down” by policing in 2005.

Emma Caldwell murder
Margaret Caldwell (left), mother of murder victim Emma Caldwell and lawyer Aamer Anwar (centre) and other family members, outside Bute House (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He added: “How many women have to die or be raped before our police service and criminal justice system is held to account?

“We welcome the public statements of Humza Yousaf on tackling misogyny and violence against women, and we hope he will now commit to a robust and independent public inquiry on the catastrophic failures in the Emma Caldwell case.

“We appreciate that the Government will seek the views of the Lord Advocate and Chief Constable, whom we will also meet over the next two days, but they cannot be allowed to investigate themselves.

“Both institutions of Crown Office and the police must answer as to why one of the worst sex offenders in the UK was gifted his freedom for some 17 years.”

Packer was also convicted of 11 rapes and 21 further charges including sexual assaults and abduction, involving multiple women, over 26 years.

Ms Constance said: “The First Minister and I would like to thank Margaret Caldwell and her family for meeting with us today.

“We were able to pass on our deepest condolences directly to Margaret and express how sorry we are for the loss of her beloved daughter Emma and for the long wait for justice the family and the other women affected by this horrific case have had.

Iain Packer
Iain Packer was jailed for life at the High Court in Glasgow (Police Scotland/PA)

“The First Minister and I discussed Margaret’s call for a judge-led public inquiry and, as the First Minister made clear last week, we are very open to this.

“He was also clear that we wanted to meet with Emma’s family and hear their views directly before making any decisions.

“We will now seriously reflect on today’s discussion and give the family’s calls for a judge-led public inquiry primary consideration as we consider next steps.

“We have told the family we will take a quick decision and inform parliament when we do so.”

Mrs Caldwell will meet Police Scotland Chief Constable Jo Farrell on Wednesday afternoon and Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain the following day.

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.

“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.”

Following Packer’s conviction on Wednesday, Assistant Chief Constable for major crime and public protection Bex Smith said: “Police Scotland launched a re-investigation of the case in 2015 after instruction from the Lord Advocate.

“It is clear that further investigations should have been carried out into Emma’s murder following the initial inquiry in 2005.

“The lack of investigation until 2015 caused unnecessary distress to her family and all those women who had come forward to report sexual violence.”

She added “significant changes have been made in recent years to improve our organisational culture”.

Police said that, over seven years, a full review of the original inquiry by Strathclyde Police in 2005 was completed.

A spokesperson said: “As part of the re-investigation, a report was also sent to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in relation to the Strathclyde Police investigation.”

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