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It is time for the truth, say McLeod family as Merseyside officers conclude 15-month investigation into Wick death

By Alan Hendry

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The family of Wick man Kevin McLeod say they hope 2021 will bring an end to their campaign for justice – 24 years after his body was found in the town's harbour.

An independent review by Merseyside Police has concluded after 15 months and it is expected that a report will be presented to the Crown Office by February.

Kevin's parents Hugh and June and his uncle, Allan McLeod, have described the handling of the case as "the most shameful episode in the history of policing and justice in Scotland".

They believe the 24-year-old electrician was murdered after a night out in Wick in February 1997, because of the injuries on his body. Police believed his death was a tragic accident.

The family now hope that the Merseyside report will finally lead to arrests being made.

In 2017, two decades after Kevin’s death, Iain Livingstone – the current chief constable of Police Scotland – said the force fully accepted that an instruction had been given by the then procurator fiscal in Wick to treat Kevin’s death as murder and to investigate it accordingly, "a matter which Northern Constabulary at that time failed to do”.

The McLeods were told just before Christmas that Merseyside officers have concluded their "proactive enquiries" and will be presenting a report to be submitted to the Crown for consideration. The family will be given an update when the report is received.

Allan McLeod, speaking on behalf of the family, said: “Now that Merseyside’s 15-month independent investigation has ended and that their report will be submitted to the Crown, possibly in February, we just hope that their report will not be hidden from the family, similar to other ‘independent’ reports in the past. No more lies, no more cover-ups – it is time for the truth.

"We sincerely hope that the Covid pandemic will not prevent the family from having a face-to-face meeting with officers from Merseyside and senior Crown officials, as to meet these officials in person at this crucial stage is paramount.

"There are so many questions we trust will be answered, the most crucial being: Why did detectives ignore the fiscal's instruction to investigate Kevin’s death as murder? Why did the fiscal fail to ensure that his specific instruction to police was fully carried out? Why were these serious failures by the authorities hidden from the family for two decades? And has Merseyside identified any suspects?

"We also question why, after it was discovered that police had failed to act on the fiscal’s murder inquiry instruction, did the authorities not then, or indeed at any time after, launch a murder investigation?

"We hope that those responsible for Kevin’s death will finally be arrested once Crown counsel has seen Merseyside’s report and that those officials who had clearly obstructed the course of justice will also be held accountable for their actions.

"We were failed by police, prosecutors and the whole Scottish justice system. This, we believe, was the most shameful episode in the history of policing and justice in Scotland. Kevin was 24 when he died. Now, 24 years later, we pray 2021 will be the year for truth, justice and accountability."

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