Yousaf 'seriously considering' public inquiry into Emma Caldwell murder

Opposition parties put pressure on the First Minister to immediately announce an independent, judge-led inquiry into police failings.

Humza Yousaf is “seriously considering” launching a judge-led public inquiry into Police Scotland’s failings in its investigation of Emma Caldwell’s murder.

The First Minister came under pressure from both Labour and the Tories to immediately announce a probe during FMQs on Thursday.

It comes the day after Iain Packer was sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 36 years following a six-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

He was found guilty of murdering 27-year-old Miss Caldwell in 2005, 11 charges of rape against nine women and 21 other charges, including sexual assault and abduction.

Iain Packer.Contributed

Her family have said police failed their daughter and the rape victims of her killer due to a “toxic culture of misogyny and corruption”.

In a statement after he was convicted of murdering the 27-year-old in 2005, her family said: “Instead of receiving justice and compassion, they (the victims) were humiliated, dismissed and in some instances arrested, whilst the police gifted freedom to an evil predator to rape and rape again.”

During FMQs on Thursday, the Scottish Tory leader said a public inquiry into police failings must be launched immediately.

Emma Caldwell.Supplied

Douglas Ross read out a statement from Emma’s mother, Margaret Caldwell, via her lawyer Aamer Anwar, at First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood.

He said: “Margaret had a message for the First Minister, she said this: ‘If Mr Yousaf genuinely cares about the victims and my Emma, then he has no other option but to organise an independent public inquiry’.

“And she continued: ‘With respect, what are you waiting for?’”

Ross added: “Emma Caldwell’s family and the many women who were attacked need answers now – not in another 20 years.

“They need a free and fearless public inquiry that victims and their families can fully trust.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said the investigation must be carried out by someone outside of Scotland.

Yousaf agreed that a judge-led inquiry must be independent of Scotland’s justice system.

“A judge-led public inquiry is something that we’re exploring, is absolutely not off the table and is something we’re giving very serious consideration to given the systemic failings in this case,” he said.

It’s understood the Scottish Government is aiming to meet with Margaret Caldwell in the early part of next week.

Speaking outside court following Packer’s conviction, Anwar said: “We now know Packer carried out rapes, sexual offences and assaults some 19 times after Emma’s murder in 2005.

“Margaret believes that officers sabotaged an investigation into Packer for a decade and have blood on their hands. For far too long they have remained in the shadows, but must now answer for their betrayal.

“Today Margaret Caldwell calls on the Scottish Government to order an independent, judge-led public inquiry into what went wrong.

“The scale of the crimes and the failures are so catastrophic that nothing less than a judicial public inquiry will suffice. Neither the police nor Crown Office can be allowed or trusted to investigate themselves and their former bosses.

“In the coming days we will meet with the First Minister, Lord Advocate and Chief Constable.

“If there is no time limit on justice, then any officers, retired or not, suspected of criminality must be prosecuted and those in our criminal justice system who gave Packer his freedom should finally be held to account.”

Police Scotland has apologised to Emma Caldwell’s family and to Packer’s other victims for them being “let down” by policing in 2005.

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