Still no sign of missing Fergus McInnes

Mystery still surrounds the disappearance of an Edinburgh academic six months after he went missing in Switzerland.

CCTV image of Fergus McInnes boarding a train in Switzerland. Picture: contributed
CCTV image of Fergus McInnes boarding a train in Switzerland. Picture: contributed

Fergus McInnes, of St Leonard’s Bank, took a flight to Geneva on September 9 to attend a conference.

He was last sighted buying a return ticket to the Alpine town of Matigny, 50 miles to the west. But he did not check into his hotel, appear at the conference at the Idiap Research Institute or board his return flight to Scotland.

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McInnes’ sister Lorna today said the family was still in the dark over his fate and admitted the uncertainty had taken its toll on the family.

She said: “Ever since Fergus disappeared we’ve been constantly wishing for news, day after day, week after week, and we may have many more months, even years, of waiting before anything comes to light. Indeed, it could be that we never find out what happened to him.”

She added: “We try to remain patient, and continue to hope for answers without allowing the situation to overwhelm us.

“We have to get on with our lives, but not a day goes by that we don’t think about Fergus and wish we could find out the truth about his 

“The uncertainty is the most difficult thing to deal with. If we only knew for sure what happened to him we could learn to accept it, but without any evidence we’re left to make up our own minds about the situation.

“None of us wants to give up hope of finding him alive, but reluctantly some of us have come to the conclusion that he died last September. We all have to find our own way of coping with the challenge of so many unanswered questions.”

Jean-Marie Bornet, chief of information for the Valais Police, said there was “no evidence” to suggest Mr McInnes was in the area but that police were continuing to monitor the Swiss borders.

Mr Bornet previously told the Evening News that he could be in Geneva or Martigny, but that it was equally possible he had gone on to Chamonix, adding “all situations are possible”.

Mr McInnes had battled with depression but had not sought treatment since 2010, and family described him as “upbeat” just days before his disappearance.

The family had suggested that Mr McInnes, a keen hillwalker, may have met with an accident or was lost hiking in the foothills of the Alps before the conference.

But they also refused to rule out that he may have been robbed “perhaps violently”, attacked or that a “traumatic experience” sparked a bout of amnesia.

Mr McInnes, who was 51 when he went missing, is a former Cambridge maths student and a research fellow at Edinburgh University’s Centre for Speech Technology Research.

Online Mr McInnes lists his interests and hobbies as croquet, organising walks over the Pentland Hills and 
further afield and “changing the world”.

His past research has included human-computer interfaces, and the evaluation of automated telephone services for BT.