Public inquiry ‘chance for a legacy’ for Emma Caldwell, says mother

Public inquiry ‘chance for a legacy’ for Emma Caldwell, says mother

The mother of murdered Emma Caldwell believes the announcement of a public inquiry into her death will be a “chance for a legacy” for her daughter.

Margaret Caldwell said the fight for justice for her daughter, who was killed by Iain Packer in 2005, “isn’t finished yet” as she reacted to the announcement that there would be an inquiry into the police investigation into her daughter’s murder.

The family’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said: “For a mother, today is a chance for a legacy for Emma Caldwell and for the victims of sexual violence.

“Emma’s family hope her name will live on long after her killer’s name has turned to dust.”

Emma Caldwell murder
Lawyer Aamer Anwar speaks to the media with Margaret Caldwell (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Outside the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Mr Anwar said the family is “grateful” to First Minister Humza Yousaf and Justice Secretary Angela Constance for ordering a statutory public inquiry.

Mr Anwar said: “The Caldwell family are grateful to the First Minister, the Justice Secretary, for having listened to what they had to say and for ordering the statutory public inquiry.

“We are grateful to all political parties in this Parliament for showing their unity and support for the family.”

Mr Anwar said the apology from police was “not accepted” and ruled out the Metropolitan Police investigating as an external force.

He added: “Officers who retired or who sabotaged the case must face justice.

“Iain Packer raped and raped again, and was allowed to do so because the police covered up, and continued to cover up.”

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The solicitor, who has been at the forefront of many campaigns for justice throughout his career, said the police must be held to account.

He said: “Every single person who had fingerprints on this case must be brought to a public inquiry, must be subject to criminal investigations.

“This is the worst scandal ever to hit the the Scottish legal system and one of the worst in UK legal history.

“I can’t put it any plainer than the fact that this man was given his freedom.”

Preparations will start immediately for an independent public inquiry, Scotland’s Justice Secretary vowed.

Ms Constance made the commitment as she confirmed a statutory inquiry will take place, with consideration being given to whether a judge from outside of Scotland should be appointed.

Margaret Caldwell looked on from the public gallery at Holyrood as the Justice Secretary made the announcement, which came after the pair met, alongside Mr Yousaf, earlier this week.

Emma Caldwell murder
Emma Caldwell’s body was found in 2005 (family handout/Aamer Anwar/PA)

It has been almost 20 years since her 27-year-old daughter was murdered by serial rapist Packer in 2005, but while he was interviewed by police the month after her body was found in May that year, it was only last week he was convicted.

Police Scotland have already apologised to the family of Miss Caldwell and his other victims, saying they were “let down”.

Ms Constance said: “Nineteen years have elapsed between Emma’s murder and a conviction and there can be no doubt of the serious failings that brought a grieving family to have to fight for their right, for Emma’s right, to justice.”

In an emotional statement, the Justice Secretary paid tribute to Miss Caldwell’s family, including her father William who died in 2011, telling them: “For you, Margaret, for William, and for women and girls across this country, but most of all for Emma, I am pleased to tell Parliament today that there will be a public inquiry.”

Ms Constance said Mrs Caldwell had told her that her daughter and Packer’s other victims “deserve nothing less than a robust, independent public inquiry and a judge who will act without fear or favour”.

Mrs Caldwell told the minister: “There are those who say that such inquiries take too long.

“My family have struggled for 19 years to get justice and we will wait however long it takes to see the truth, and will accept nothing less.”

Angela Constance
Angela Constance announced the inquiry at Holyrood (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Ms Constance stressed the public inquiry is a “very significant undertaking” which will “take time to set up, to hear evidence, and to reach its findings”.

Packer, 51, was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 36 years at the High Court in Glasgow last week after being found guilty of murdering the 27-year-old, as well as 11 rapes and 21 other charges, including sexual assaults, against other women.

As he plans to appeal against his convictions and sentence, Ms Constance stressed there were “restrictions” on what she could say about the case.

But she said: “Given the gravity of this case, the length of time it took for justice to be served, the horrific extent of the sexual violence suffered by the victims and survivors, and the suffering endured by their families, the case for holding a public inquiry is clear and compelling.

“It is time to apply fresh scrutiny to this case, to understand what went wrong, to ensure that lessons are learned for the future and to provide answers to all victims and survivors in this case.”

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Russell Findlay praised the Caldwell family and Mrs Caldwell in particular, saying their “strength and their dignity are truly humbling”.

Margaret Caldwell
Margaret Caldwell hears the announcement of a public inquiry (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He told MSPs: “Their campaign for Emma has been backed by good police officers, lawyers and journalists.

“But let me be clear, the only reason that her daughter’s killer is now behind bars is because of her love and her strength.

“Left to Police Scotland and the Crown Office, I believe that Iain Packer would certainly still be out there – raping women with impunity.”

Scottish Labour justice spokeswoman Pauline McNeill said: “It is the job of this Parliament to ensure no family should ever have to wait two decades for justice.

“Scottish Labour stands full square behind the Government and Angela Constance today in her decision to hold a public inquiry to establish why, among other things, there was no prosecution in 2008 when it appeared the police and the Crown had enough evidence to do so.

“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.”

Ms McNeill backed having a judge from outside Scotland to head the inquiry, and urged Ms Constance to ensure it begins “in a timely manner”.