The handling of an unexplained death more than 20 years ago has been described as a “huge miscarriage of justice”.
The body of Kevin Mcleod, 24, was recovered from Wick harbour on February 9, 1997 after a night out with friends.
Last year Police Scotland made an “unreserved apology” for “serious failings” in the initial investigation by Northern Constabulary, including a decision not to investigate the death as murder despite being instructed to do so by prosecutors.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, local MSP Gail Ross said the way the Mcleod family had been treated was “an absolute disgrace”.
She said: “It’s a huge miscarriage of justice. The police have admitted it should have been dealt with as a murder inquiry.
“I can’t begin to imagine what that family have gone through over the last 21 years; it’s an absolute disgrace.”
Allan Mcleod, Kevin’s uncle, said cause of his nephew's death had been covered up.
“It’s been shameful the way the police and all the authorities have conducted themselves in this,” he said.
“We’ve been knocking down doors, banging down walls for 21 years – it’s totally unacceptable.
“This has been biggest cover-up and conspiracy in the history of policing in Scotland.”
Mr Mcleod’s family have previously called for an independent inquiry into why Northern Constabulary ignored a direction from prosecutors to investigate the death as a murder.
They believe Mr Mcleod, an electrician, had massive internal injuries consistent with being kicked several hours prior to his drowning.
In 2007, the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland said Northern Constabulary had behaved with “institutional arrogance” in the way it handled complaints from the Mcleod family.
In a letter sent to the family in December, Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “It is Police Scotland’s unequivocal position that we fully accept that an instruction was indeed given by the then procurator fiscal to treat Kevin’s death as a murder and to investigate it accordingly, a matter which Northern Constabulary at that time failed to do.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Gareth Blair said: “Since (January 2017), I and four other senior officers from Police Scotland, including DCC Iain Livingstone, have met with the family on three separate occasions to listen to their concerns.
“During his meeting with Kevin McLeod’s family, DCC Livingstone made a verbal and written commitment that any new information will be thoroughly investigated.”