FIRST Minister Humza Yousaf has been urged to commit to an independent judge-led inquiry into the handling of the case of murder victim Emma Caldwell.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar both called for a judge from outside Scotland to be appointed to lead a public inquiry into the investigation.

On Wednesday, Iain Packer was found guilty of murdering 27-year-old Caldwell in 2005, as well as 11 charges of rape against nine women and 21 other charges, including sexual assault and abduction.

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Packer, 51, of Glasgow, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 36 years following a six-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Questions have been raised over why it took so long for Packer to be held to account for his crimes, and the actions of police officers who investigated Caldwell’s killing.

Police Scotland issued an apology for their handling of the case in the wake of Packer's conviction. 

Caldwell’s mum Margaret (below) called for a public inquiry over the investigation of her daughter’s murder following Packer’s conviction and claimed a “toxic culture of misogyny and corruption” led to officers failing to gain justice for her daughter. 

The National:

Ross read out a statement from Margaret in the Holyrood chamber: “Margaret had a message for the First Minister, she said this: ‘If Mr Yousaf genuinely cares about the victims and my Emma, then he has no other option but to organise an independent public inquiry’.

“And she continued: ‘With respect, what are you waiting for?'”

Yousaf said he is not ruling out a judge-led public inquiry.

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He said there is a “strong argument” for an inquiry to be led by someone from outside the country.

Speaking at FMQs at Holyrood on Thursday, the First Minister sent his condolences to Margaret and paid tribute to her “tireless” fight for justice.

He said: "I hope it does give a small, tiny crumb of comfort that justice to some extent has been done.

"But Douglas Ross is right that justice is far too late, there are some serious feelings in this case, of that there is no doubt."

The National: Douglas Ross

Yousaf added that he has written to Margaret's legal representative Aamer Anwar and agreed to meet with her alongside Justice Secretary Angela Constance. 

He added that he was waiting to have that meeting and investigate if an inquiry now would interfere with any ongoing legal processes, as Packer has the right to appeal.

"We have to wait, I think to some extent to see what the next stages of that legal process are," Yousaf told MSPs. 

"But let me be absolutely clear that a judge-led public inquiry is absolutely something we are exploring, it is absolutely not off the table, and it's something we're giving very serious consideration to given the systemic failings of this case."

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Ross again quoted Margaret's calls for an inquiry, adding: "Emma Caldwell’s family and many other women who were attacked need answers now, not in another 20 years. 

"They need a free and fearless public inquiry that victims and their families can fully trust."

The First Minister replied: "There is not much difference between Douglas Ross and I at all in this regard. I will repeat I don't rule out a public inquiry."

He added that appointing a judge from outwith Scotland to conduct the probe was "worthy of consideration".

The National: Anas Sarwar

Later, Scottish Labour leader Sarwar (above) would also call for the First Minister to appoint a judge from another part of the UK to preside over any inquiry. 

"A toxic culture of misogyny and corruption meant the police failed so many women and girls who came forward to speak up against Packer," Sarwar said. 

"Instead of receiving justice and compassion, they were humiliated, dismissed and in some instances arrested, whilst the police gifted freedom to an evil predator to rape and rape again."

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He pushed the First Minister on who would lead an official inquiry, adding: "This injustice has spanned 19 years, and in that time, we have had five lord advocates and six chief constables.

"So does the First Minister agree that for any inquiry or indeed review to be truly independent, it requires it to be led by an individual separate and independent from Scotland's criminal justice system?"

Yousaf replied: "First and foremost Anas Sarwar is right, we still in Scotland have a serious problem with misogyny and I know there's a lot of cross party consensus around some of the actions that the Scottish Government has taken forward to tackle violence against women and girls."

He added that he hopes to bring a debate on the issue of positive masculinity to the chamber, and that there is a “strong argument” for an inquiry to be led by judge from outside Scotland.