MSPs call for inquiry into murder by man unlawfully at large

Mr McClelland, 31, (right) was stabbed to death in Paisley last year by James Wright (left). Picture: contributed
Mr McClelland, 31, (right) was stabbed to death in Paisley last year by James Wright (left). Picture: contributed
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Politicians from Scotland’s three main opposition parties have united in calling for an independent public inquiry into the death of Craig McClelland.

Mr McClelland, 31, was stabbed to death in Paisley last year by James Wright, who had been “unlawfully at large” for five months.

Wright – who had 16 previous convictions, including two for knife crimes – had breached the terms of a Home Detention Curfew (HDC) in February 2017 just days after being released from prison.

Now Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr and his Labour counterpart, Daniel Johnson, have written to Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf calling for a full independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death.

• READ MORE: Fall in electronic tagging for prisoners after Craig McClelland murder

In a letter to Mr Yousaf, they said: “We each met Craig’s partner and father, Stacey and Michael, last week. They have rightly pursued answers about the events that led to his murder, doing so with both dignity and determination.

“We welcome your personal commitment to ensuring lessons will be learned but it is impossible for this to be done until there is full transparency about what occurred.”

Wright breached his HDC and was deemed to be unlawfully at large by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) ten days after his release from HMP Low Moss where he had been serving a 21-month prison sentence for a knife-related crime. On 23 February last year, he removed his electronic tag and left his curfew address. Police Scotland were alerted the following day by the SPS. However, Wright was still free on July 23 when he approached Mr McClelland, a father of three, in the street and asked him for a light before stabbing him twice.

Last month the rules surrounding HDCs were tightened after a damning report from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland.

The MSPs added: “There must be clarity about the circumstances, in particular the grounds and process for releasing James Wright in the first place and how he was allowed to be unlawfully at large when he broke the rules and should have been returned to prison.”

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “While nothing can take away the grief of the McClelland family, the Scottish Government will continue to do all we can to support the family to ensure that lessons are learned and improvements are made. I will reply to the letter as soon as possible, and will be meeting the family again shortly.”