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Friday, May 14, 1999 Published at 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK


Man freed after historic retrial

Alexander Hall speaks to reporters outside the court

A former policeman who faced an historic second trial for the murder of a secretary has walked free.

Alexander Hall faced a repeat trial after the appeal court in Edinburgh quashed his original conviction for the murder of Lanarkshire woman Lorna Porter 15 years ago.

BBC Scotland's Reevel Alderson reports
A tearful Mr Hall, 44, who spent 11 years in jail for the murder, told reporters outside the court he had never given up hope that he would be acquitted.

The jury, at the end of a 16-day trial, found the case not proven.

At a second attempted appeal in Edinburgh last December, judges quashed his conviction but in an unusual move Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Cullen, ordered a retrial because of a miscarriage of justice.

[ image: Lorna Porter was found stabbed to death near a rail line]
Lorna Porter was found stabbed to death near a rail line
The judges said new evidence would have been significant had the original trial jury had the opportunity to hear it in February 1998. It was alleged a key prosecution witness had lied at his trial.

They ruled that the Crown Office could not be held responsible for the alleged perjury and left the way open for a retrial.

Mr Hall, a former Strathclyde Police officer, was not allowed bail and the Crown served a fresh indictment on him in Perth prison.

Mr Hall, who had also served in the Royal Marines, denied murdering 18-year-old Miss Porter by cutting her throat with a knife at his former home in Thorn Road, Bellshill, in September 1984.

The jury heard that the victim, from Holytown, was engaged to the brother of Mr Hall's wife.

His original appeal against conviction was refused in 1989 but in February last year the Scottish Secretary referred the case back to the Court of Criminal Appeal.

[ image: The place where Lorna Porter's body was discovered]
The place where Lorna Porter's body was discovered
The jury at the retrial heard that Mr Hall had confessed to Miss Porter's murder while in prison, something he denied.

] It was alleged he had told how he learned to kill with his bare hands as a commando.

But the jury at Edinburgh High Court brought a verdict of not proven by a majority verdict after five hours of deliberation.

Outside the court, a tearful Mr Hall said: "I am just stunned but I have not cleared my name, the fight will go on.

"I have lost my wife, I have lost my kids, I have lost everything, I have been attacked in jail, spat at, everything has happened to me.

"I will just have to go and have a drink or something."

Prison term

Mr Hall would not comment on whether he would seek compensation after serving such a long prison term.

Miss Porter's father, George, said he did not wish to comment at the end of the trial.

Miss Porter was a friend of Mr Hall's then wife Patricia and had just become engaged to her brother, Thomas Donnelly, the day before her body was found.

Strathclyde Police, which carried out the investigation, said it would be inappropriate to comment until it has studied the court notes.

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