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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 19:33 GMT 20:33 UK
Probe into Chhokar report leaks
Surjit Chhokar's father Darshan
The Chhokar family called for an inquiry
An inquiry has been ordered into the leaking of official reports into the handling of the Surjit Singh Chhokar murder case.

First Minister Henry McLeish has written to Mr Chhokar's parents to tell them that he shares their concern over the leaks.

And he assured them that no government minister was behind the passing on of the details of the reports to the media.

Henry McLeish
Henry McLeish shared the family's concern
The family had called for an inquiry into how newspapers were able to publish confidential details of the reports at the weekend.

Mr Chhokar, a 32-year-old waiter, was killed in Overtown, Lanarkshire, in November 1998 outside his girlfriend's home - but no-one has been convicted of his murder.

Ronnie Coulter, 32, from Wishaw, walked free from the first murder trial after he blamed his cousin, 23-year-old Andrew Coulter, and David Montgomery, 19, from Motherwell, for the killing.

Andrew Coulter and Mr Montgomery then stood trial last year, but claimed Ronnie Coulter was responsible, and were also acquitted of murder.

Family's treatment

Lord Advocate Colin Boyd commissioned reports by solicitor Dr Raj Jandoo and Sir Anthony Campbell, Justice of the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland.

Sir Anthony was tasked with looking at the prosecution of the murder case, while Dr Jandoo was to consider how the family were treated.

Their findings are due to be published on Wednesday.

However, after newspaper reports on Sunday the Chhokar family wrote to Mr McLeish demanding to know where the leak came from, why only "selective aspects" were released, and whether the inquiries could still be seen as impartial.

Surjit Chhokar
Surjit Chhokar was murdered three years ago
Mr McLeish has now replied to the Chhokar Family Justice Campaign.

In his letter, the first minister said that he shared the family's "deep concern" at the publicity surrounding the reports of the inquiries.

"I can assure you that whoever may have spoken or otherwise communicated with any journalist on this matter, it was neither with the agreement nor authorisation of any Scottish Executive minister.

"I have asked for a full report into the background to these articles," he wrote.

The spokesman for the Chhokar family, Aamer Anwar, said they welcomed the inquiry.

However, he emphasised that the family and the general public not only had a right to know who was responsible for the latest leak, but why there had been repeated leaks of Dr Jandoo's report since January.

See also:

21 Oct 01 | Scotland
'No comment' over Chhokar claims
31 May 01 | Scotland
Chhokar witness fails in appeal
08 Feb 01 | Scotland
Chhokar trial pair sent to jail
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