UK

Caldwell ‘failed’ by justice system, says ex-editor behind Packer investigation

Seven weeks after The Sunday Mail’s investigation in 2015, then lord advocate Frank Mulholland ordered the murder case to be reopened.

Jim Wilson said Emma Caldwell and her family were ‘failed’ by investigating authorities
Emma Caldwell Jim Wilson said Emma Caldwell and her family were ‘failed’ by investigating authorities (Family Handout/PA)

The former editor of a newspaper which investigated Iain Packer on the 10th anniversary of Emma Caldwell’s murder, after which the police inquiry was reopened, has said she was “failed” by the justice system.

Jim Wilson was editor of The Sunday Mail when it branded Packer “the forgotten suspect” in 2015, and he claimed the authorities “concealed” Packer and left him “free to commit more crimes”.

Seven weeks after the newspaper’s investigation, then lord advocate Frank Mulholland ordered the case to be reopened.

Mr Wilson also accused Police Scotland of an “unlawful” probe into the newspaper’s sources in the aftermath of the story, rather than focusing on the killer.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled in 2022 that Police Scotland breached Mr Wilson’s rights when it sought to identify The Sunday Mail’s sources for the story.

Six years earlier, it found the force had acted “unlawfully” when looking at the cases of individuals whose data was accessed as the force tried to determine how information about the murder investigation reached the press.

Mr Wilson said the case was characterised by “official concealment, delay and denial” which allowed Packer to “terrorise” other women.

Emma Caldwell turned to drugs after a family bereavement and her habit led to sex work
Emma Caldwell Emma Caldwell turned to drugs after a family bereavement and her habit led to sex work

Speaking after Packer was found guilty of murdering Miss Caldwell and a host of other charges, Mr Wilson said: “Iain Packer will finally pay for his crimes but police and prosecutors who allowed him to remain free for almost 20 years must also be held to account.

“Police Scotland and the Crown Office did nothing because it was professionally embarrassing to admit mistakes and put them right.”

The police investigation initially focused on four Turkish men who were arrested in 2007 after a two-year surveillance operation on a cafe in Glasgow following interviews with other sex workers, but the case collapsed after issues with translation.

Packer lodged a special defence of incrimination against two of the men, claiming they were responsible for Miss Caldwell’s murder.

Emma Caldwell riding a horse as a young child
Emma Caldwell Emma Caldwell riding a horse as a young child

Mr Wilson said: “A killer was concealed because the authorities did not want to explain a murder investigation that lasted two-and-a-half years, cost £4 million, targeted the wrong men and left the prime suspect free to commit more crimes and inflict more grief and misery.

“The decision to investigate our sources instead of reopening the inquiry was appalling but only one example of the official concealment, delay and denial that has characterised this scandal.

“Scotland’s justice system failed Emma Caldwell, her family and all the women terrorised by Packer in the years he was allowed to remain free.

“His conviction has answered one question but Police Scotland and the Crown Office must answer many more.”

A Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) spokesperson said: “Iain Packer has been found to be a violent sexual predator who murdered Emma Caldwell and preyed on and abused other young women. His conviction follows a large and complex investigation, involving dedicated teams from COPFS and Police Scotland.

“It is a matter of regret that it has taken until now for justice to be served in this case. The Lord Advocate has offered to meet with Emma’s mother Margaret to answer any questions she may have and discuss the investigation and criminal proceedings.

Iain Packer has been jailed for life for murder and a string of rapes
Iain Packer Iain Packer has been jailed for life for murder and a string of rapes (Police Scotland/PA)

“We recognise and understand the impact of the time taken in securing justice for all those who have suffered because of Iain Packer’s actions. Our thoughts are with them as he faces the consequences of his crimes.”

Police Scotland has apologised for failings in policing in 2005.

Assistant Chief Constable Bex Caldwell said in a statement: “Emma Caldwell, her family and many other victims, were let down by policing in 2005. For that we are sorry.

“A significant number of women and girls who showed remarkable courage to speak up at that time also did not get the justice and support they needed and deserved from Strathclyde Police.”

She said it is “clear” further investigations should have been carried out into the murder following the initial inquiry in 2005 and the lack of investigation until 2015 caused “unnecessary distress to her family and all those women who had come forward to report sexual violence”.

She added “significant changes have been made in recent years to improve our organisational culture and our response, particularly in respect of investigative structures, victim care and processes to these types of crimes”.