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McKie family drop campaign for inquiry

AFTER ten years, four investigations and two trials, Shirley McKie and her family yesterday dropped their campaign for a public inquiry into why the former policewoman was wrongly accused of leaving her fingerprint at a murder scene.

The misidentification of Ms McKie's fingerprint at the Kilmarnock home of murder victim Marion Ross in 1997 prompted one of the biggest scandals in Scottish legal history.

Ms McKie was accused of lying about her presence at the murder scene and tried for perjury. But after years of police investigations, it was proved the fingerprint was not hers.

Both the justice minister at the time and the Lord Advocate were forced to apologise and last year Ms McKie was paid 750,000 in compensation. Most recently there has been a parliamentary inquiry into the case.

But Ms McKie and supporters say they have never been given an explanation of why the misidentification happened, nor why it took the establishment so long to admit there was a mistake, and through it all have called for a public inquiry.

However, a decade after the murder of Ms Ross, the family have decided that enough is enough.

"We have given ten years of our lives to this and we are not giving any more. It is the politicians' job now to do something about it," said her father, Ian McKie .

"It is not our role to fight for justice; it is their role."

Mr McKie, 67, said that on 9 January, 2007 - exactly ten years after the murder investigation began - he and his family will end their campaign.

He added: "The experience has so put us off that, come the tenth anniversary of the Marion Ross case, we're finished.

"My daughter is not going back to another inquiry to be vilified.

"[She] has spoken the truth from the beginning, but she is still being called a liar."

While there has not been a public inquiry into the case, MSPs on parliament's justice 1 committee investigated the Scottish fingerprint service. But when Ms McKie, 44, from Troon, Ayrshire gave evidence to the committee, there were angry clashes with some MSPs as she accused them of putting her on trial again.

However, Mike Russell, the former SNP MSP who has campaigned for Ms McKie, said questions remain over why politicians failed to deal with the case sooner.

"What I would really want to see is, even if there is no public inquiry, that this never happens again and I am not confident that is the case yet, because the political lessons have not been learned. It is still possible for political evasions, lies and deceits to be repeated," he said.

DECADE OF LEGAL WRANGLING

The Shirley McKie case has dragged on for a decade and involved senior legal and political figures.

• February 1997: Marion Ross found murdered. Ms McKie accused of leaving a fingerprint at scene. Later goes off work, depressed.

• July 1997: Professor Colin Espie, a psychology expert , reports that Ms McKie is "telling the truth".

• March 1998: Ms McKie arrested in a dawn raid. Charged with perjury.

• May 1999: Ms McKie cleared of perjury.

• July 1999: Lord Advocate refuses to order an inquiry into Scottish Criminal Record Office (SCRO).

• December 1999: Ms McKie discharged from Strathclyde Police on medical grounds.

• June 2000: Then justice minister Jim Wallace, confirms print was not Ms McKie's. Tayside Police boss James Mackay is instructed to investigate SCRO .

• October 2000: Mr Mackay reports to the Crown Office.

• August 2002: David Asbury's conviction for Ms Ross's murder is quashed.

• February 2003: Ms McKie loses her action against Strathclyde Police.

• December 2003: Lord Wheatley allows Ms McKie to take her case against the SCRO to Court of Session.

• February 2006: Scottish Executive settles Ms McKie's civil case against the SCRO.

• April 2006: Scottish Parliament's Justice 1 Committee begin their own inquiry.

• December 2006: McKie family drop calls for a public inquiry.

• February 2007: The parliamentary inquiry is expected to report.

 
 
 

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