One of Scotland’s most notorious murderers has won a battle to force Police Scotland to reveal whether it holds information on Kenny MacAskill’s involvement in his case.
William Beggs, the so-called “Limbs in the Loch” killer, has been using freedom of information (FOI) legislation to obtain any details the force holds on the former justice secretary’s association with the case.
Beggs was jailed for life in 2001 for the murder of 18-year-old Barry Wallace.
He dismembered the teenager’s body, leaving parts in Loch Lomond and throwing his head into the sea off Troon.
An FOI request from Beggs asked for all information held by police on Mr MacAskill’s alleged involvement in the case, claiming the former justice secretary had acted as his lawyer from 1994 onwards.
Following Police Scotland’s refusal to release the details, Scotland’s information commissioner instructed the force to reveal whether it holds information relating to Mr MacAskill’s involvement in the case as an MSP or justice secretary, but not as a solicitor. If the information is held, the force must then issue the information to Beggs or issue a refusal notice.
The decision published by the commissioner quotes unsubstantiated “observations” made by Beggs, namely that while a partner in a law firm, Mr MacAskill acted for him and a relative.
According to Beggs, correspondence pertaining to Mr MacAskill was likely to have been found by police during a search of the murderer’s home.
Beggs also claimed that while justice secretary, Mr MacAskill had corresponded with a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly about his case.
According to the information commissioner, Beggs argued that Mr MacAskill’s “potential involvement in this ‘high profile police inquiry’ and his co-operation (or non-co-operation) with the police is a matter of public interest and importance”.
Fergus Byrne, head of corporate governance for Police Scotland, said: “Police Scotland is complying with the decision of the Office of the Information Commissioner in Scotland to review our response to Mr Beggs in regard to information which may or may not be held post-conviction.
“This review is ongoing and we expect to complete it in the required timescale.”
Earlier this year, a judge ruled Beggs’ human rights had been breached after the Scottish Prison Service opened letters from the information commissioner’s office. Lady Stacey ruled the SPS had contravened article eight the European Convention on Human Rights.
Mr MacAskill declined to comment.