The lawyer for Emma Caldwell’s family has damned the Crown Office as “unbelievably cynical and cruel” in a coruscating letter to Scotland’s most senior prosecutor.
Aamer Anwar has written to the Lord Advocate, James Wolffe, to demand a judicial inquiry, 16 years after Emma’s murder and six years since police were ordered to reopen the investigation after the exposure of forgotten suspect, Iain Packer.
He accuses prosecutors of prolonging the grief and uncertainty of Emma’s mother, Margaret, after offering only false hope of a future prosecution while fobbing her off with empty promises of progress.
In his eight-page letter Anwar also suggests the Lord Advocate must examine his conscience to ask if the failure to prosecute Packer, who has a criminal record of violence against women, has put others at risk.
Anwar, one of Scotland’s most prominent campaigning lawyers, condemns the failure to prosecute Packer and suggests the Lord Advocate must consider his position if he is incapable of taking a decision.
He writes: “The very least that Margaret Caldwell is entitled to is the truth and for you to have the courage to make a decision. With respect, if you do not have that courage to fulfil promises made to Mrs Caldwell and to make a decision then perhaps the time has come for you to consider whether you should remain as Lord Advocate.”
Packer’s involvement in the case was revealed in 2015, on the 10th anniversary of Emma’s murder. During the initial inquiry, he had been interviewed six times by police and changed his story repeatedly before admitting knowing Emma, who was 27 when she was killed.
Her drug addiction, which began after the loss of her big sister to cancer, had forced her on to the red-light streets of Glasgow and Packer, who was said to be obsessed with her, had repeatedly driven her to the remote forestry track where her body was found. Other women told police he had also taken them to the same isolated spot and, once there, had flown into violent rages.
However, after directing detectives to the location, he was never spoken to again as police wrongly focused on four Turkish suspects. They would be charged before the case against them collapsed with all charges dropped.
A month ago, Emma’s mother Margaret, backed by The Sunday Post, demanded the prosecution of Packer to allow a jury to decide his guilt or innocence. Mrs Caldwell, 72, told us: “They ask for patience but how much? They ask me to wait but for how long?”
Her lawyer has now written to the Lord Advocate to echo her dismay and demand an inquiry into the failure of the Crown Office to secure justice since Emma’s death in April 2005. Anwar writes: “The treatment to date by Crown Office of Margaret Caldwell is unbelievably cynical and cruel.”
He highlighted the Lord Advocate’s pledge on the European Day for Victims last year to put victims’ voices at the heart of the justice system and “continue to seek and act on feedback from victims and witnesses to ensure the service we provide is truly victim-focused”.
Anwar writes: “We can only conclude from the treatment of Mrs Caldwell that these were simply empty words. You are perfectly entitled to call this feedback on behalf of the family of Emma Caldwell: The Crown Office is broken.”
Anwar says Emma’s family were happy with the commitment of the detectives tasked with reopening the inquiry in 2015 but fear that urgency has waned since Police Scotland delivered a report naming Packer as a suspect to the Crown in 2018.
He said the senior officer in charge of the inquiry has moved on, suggests the inquiry has been downsized and brands updates to the family a “box-ticking” exercise while the repeated claims by police and prosecutors that this is a “complex investigation” insult their intelligence.
In his letter, Anwar, who, along with Mrs Caldwell, met the Lord Advocate to discuss the case after it was reopened, demands to know what resources are now being devoted to the inquiry adding: “Six years have passed, a full-scale investigation has been wound down and your office has failed to fulfil promises you made to Mrs Caldwell and her family in 2015.
“There is no reasonable explanation you can provide, as to why it has taken your office the last six years to decide on whether or not to indict the alleged killer. We must now ask for you to consider appointing an independent judge to lead an inquiry into the failures over the last 16 years.”
He writes: “The issue is one of transparency and accountability, of which there has been none to date.”
Yesterday, Anwar told The Sunday Post that the Crown Office must give Mrs Caldwell information to assure her the investigation into her daughter’s death is being given every possible attention and treated with urgency and commitment.
The Crown Office said the investigation is ongoing; a decision cannot be taken until it is complete; contact has been maintained with Mrs Caldwell; but it would be inappropriate to comment further to protect the potential for any future prosecution and a fair trial. A spokesman added: “The desire to see matters resolved and have questions answered is wholly understandable.”
Lawyer: What happened to police investigation into first police investigation?
In his letter to the Lord Advocate, the lawyer for Emma Caldwell’s family said they have not forgotten the failures of the initial inquiry into her murder and the failures of the senior police and prosecutors in charge.
He says their determination to charge four Turkish suspects with Emma’s murder while ignoring Iain Packer was a “betrayal”.
Instead of reopening the inquiry after Packer was exposed in 2015, Police Scotland launched an unlawful hunt for the sources of the journalists and did not reopen the inquiry until then-Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland ordered it seven weeks later.
Another police inquiry was also ordered into the management of the first murder investigation. This reported to the Crown but police and prosecutors refuse to reveal if any action was taken on its contents.
In his letter to James Wolffe, Anwar raises that inquiry, writing: “The family are left wondering what happened to the parallel investigation that was to take place into the actions of the police team that pursued the failed investigation.
“The family were told this parallel investigation would be completed once the criminal proceedings were completed.
“Many officers involved in the original flawed murder inquiry went on to enjoy successful careers with the Strathclyde police force and then Police Scotland, with several being promoted to senior ranks most of whom have since retired, while others moved on to senior positions within the criminal justice system.” Stephen House, who took charge of Strathclyde Police before the collapse of the case against the Turks and was in charge when his force launched a molehunt instead of a manhunt after Packer’s exposure, is now Deputy Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police.
Most of the other senior officers in charge at the time have retired.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe