A PUBLIC inquiry is to be held into the police investigation of the murder of Emma Caldwell almost two decades ago, Scotland’s Justice Secretary Angela Constance has announced.

The announcement comes after both Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf and his Justice Secretary Angela Constance met with the murdered woman’s mother earlier this week and Miss Caldwell's family was told that evidence existed to prosecute her murderer Iain Packer in 2008 but the Lord Advocate.

Packer, 51, was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 36 years at the High Court in Glasgow last week after being found guilty of murdering the 27-year-old in 2005, as well as 11 rapes and 21 other charges, including sexual assaults, against other women.

Miss Caldwell’s mother Margaret met Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC at the Crown Office in Edinburgh on Thursday, ahead of the ministerial statement on a public inquiry into the botched investigation of her daughter’s murderer.

In Holyrood, the Justice Secretary laid out her next steps, who she would "engage and contact" and said she was "open" to an inquiry chair from outwith Scotland.

The National: Angela Constance

Constance said: “Margaret Caldwell and her family have waited far too long to get justice for Emma. I have expressed directly to them on behalf of the Scottish Government how deeply sorry we are for their loss, and for the pain and grief they have had to endure.

“Nineteen years have elapsed between Emma’s murder and a conviction, showing serious failings occurred in the investigation. Given this, along with the gravity of this case, the length of time that it took for justice to be served for so many women and the horrific extent of the sexual violence suffered by the victims and survivors, the case for holding a public inquiry is overwhelming. 

“The family want to have answers and deserve nothing less. The First Minister made clear that we would give serious consideration to the Caldwell family’s call for a Public Inquiry after hearing directly from Margaret Caldwell and her family, and pledged we would do so quickly. I am glad that now we have been able to answer their call by announcing that we will set up a Public Inquiry.”

The secretary also told MSPs what Emma Caldwell’s mother Margaret said to her.

She said Mrs Caldwell told her: “My daughter Emma and the many victims who so courageously spoke up deserve nothing less than a robust, independent public inquiry and a judge who will act without fear or favour.

“There are those who say that such inquiries take too long. My family have struggled for 19 years to get justice and we will wait however long it takes to see the truth, and will accept nothing less.”

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Russell Findlay praised the Caldwell family and Margaret in particular, saying their “strength and their dignity are truly humbling”.

He told MSPs: “Their campaign for Emma has been backed by good police officers, lawyers and journalists.

“But let me be clear, the only reason that her daughter’s killer is now behind bars is because of her love and her strength.

“Left to Police Scotland and the Crown Office, I believe that Iain Packer would certainly still be out there – raping women with impunity.”

Findlay pushed the Justice Secretary on whether the judge appointed to lead the inquiry will come from outside Scotland, with Constance saying she is “open” to the suggestion.

Scottish Labour justice spokeswoman Pauline McNeill said: “It is the job of this Parliament to ensure no family should ever have to wait two decades for justice.

“Scottish Labour stands full square behind the Government and Angela Constance today in her decision to hold a public inquiry to establish why, among other things, there was no prosecution in 2008 when it appeared the police and the Crown had enough evidence to do so.

“A public inquiry must get to the truth of this – and that includes questioning all of the criminal justice agencies who have questions to answer.”

McNeill went on to back a judge from outside of Scotland being appointed to head the inquiry, and urged Constance to ensure the probe begins “in a timely manner”.