Subscribe to Holyrood updates

Newsletter sign-up


Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine


Subscribe to Holyrood
by Louise Wilson
07 March 2024
Public inquiry into Emma Caldwell investigation announced

Emma Caldwell was murdered in 2005 | Alamy

Public inquiry into Emma Caldwell investigation announced

There will be a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the investigation of Emma Caldwell’s murder, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

Justice Secretary Angela Constance, who met with Caldwell’s family earlier this week, said the case for an judge-led statutory inquiry was “overwhelming”.

Emma Caldwell was murdered in April 2005.

Iain Packer was convicted of her murder and a series of other offences last month. He is appealing this conviction.

Police have previously apologised for the handling of the original inquiries into Caldwell’s murder and accepted she had been “let down” by the botched investigation.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Constance said: “Margaret Caldwell and her family have waited far too long to get justice for Emma. I have expressed directly to them on behalf of the Scottish Government how deeply sorry we are for their loss, and for the pain and grief they have had to endure.

“Nineteen years have elapsed between Emma’s murder and a conviction, showing serious failings occurred in the investigation.

“Given this, along with the gravity of this case, the length of time that it took for justice to be served for so many women and the horrific extent of the sexual violence suffered by the victims and survivors, the case for holding a public inquiry is overwhelming. The family want to have answers and deserve nothing less.”

Politicians of all colours praised Caldwell’s family, in particular her mother Margaret, for continuing to seek justice for the last 19 years.

Margaret Caldwell was in the chamber to hear the announcement

Further details on the inquiry will be confirmed after any live legal proceedings have concluded and a chair has been appointed.

Opposition parties had previously backed an inquiry, and called for it to be led by a judge from outwith Scotland.

Conservative justice spokesman Russell Findlay said: “Today’s announcement of an inquiry is welcome, but a key question remains unanswered. Margaret believes that only a judge with no connections to Scotland’s criminal justice establishment must be appointed.

“To be credible and to be trusted the inquiry must be truly independence. I’m hoping the cabinets secretary can today agree to Margaret’s call for an external judicial appointment.”

Labour’s Pauline McNeill also welcomed the inquiry and called for it to take place quickly. She added: “A public inquiry must get to the truth of this, and that includes questioning all of the criminal justice agencies who have questions to answer, and what happened between 2008, when we believe we had the evidence, and 2024, when there was finally a sentence and conviction.”

Holyrood Newsletters

Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Louise Wilson - Patrick Harvie: Douglas Ross ‘playing shallow politics’ over Michael Matheson row.



Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox


Popular reads
Back to top