Ross appeals to First Minister to reopen historic death case

Douglas Ross – call on the First Minister to intervene

DOUGLAS ROSS HAS called on the First Minister to personally intervene and order a fresh investigation into the death of teenager 25 years ago.

The family of Neil Riddel were supported Moray’s MP when he was a regional MSP at Holyrood – in his capacity as shadow justice secretary at the Scottish Parliament.

However, his call then for a fresh investigation into the circumstances of the defence was refused by police and the Crown Office.

Neil Riddel was just 19 when he was found dead a mile from his Aultmore home on July 20, 1991. An official verdict of suicide was later returned – however, his parents have never accepted that verdict.

A review of the case was carried out in 1999 at the request of then First Minister Henry McLeish – but that was conducted by Grampian Police and the family insist it should have been conducted by an external force.

The family have never accepted the conclusion that Neil died through a drugs overdose. Requests by the family to view statements taken by police at the time were turned down.

Mr Ross said that despite his meeting the Lord Advocate and writing to Law Officers, questions still remained unanswered. He said: “In an effort to progress things for the Riddels, I agreed to contact the First Minister in the hope that she will look into the specifics of the case – and agree that further investigations by an independent body are required.”

The Riddel family remain convinced that Neil died in a police cell – his death coming weeks after the apprentice blacksmith had lodged a complaint claiming he had been assaulted by police officers.

Neil’s brother told the P&J newspaper: “We believe that the facts have been covered up – and a new review needs to be carried out completely independently. My parents and I are pleased that Mr Ross is helping – we feel there are more than enough unanswered questions to warrant the case being reopened.

“We believe the public should be able to see what happened.”

Turning down requests for a new investigation earlier this year, Asst Chief Constable Andrew Cowie said that he sympathised with the family but new information would need to emerge to justify reopening the case.