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Wednesday, 24 October, 2001, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
'We failed the Chhokar family'
Colin Boyh
Colin Boyd said the justice system had "failed"
Scotland's top law officer has admitted that his office "failed" the family of Surjit Chhokar while prosecuting two men accused of murdering the 32-year-old waiter.

The remarks by Lord Advocate Colin Boyd came after two independent reports identified failings in the way the case was handled by the police, procurator fiscal service and Crown Office.

One report by Solicitor Dr Raj Jandoo found evidence of "institutional racism" by the police and procurator fiscal service.

Another by Sir Anthony Campbell, Justice of the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland, made nine separate recommendations after identifying widespread "failings".


These reports are, I believe, more than just a contribution to a debate but mark a significant turning point in the justice system

Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Boyd said that he was "horrified" that the contents of both reports had been leaked in advance to Sunday newspapers.

He told MSPs that the leaks were "grossly offensive to both the Chhokar family and to this Parliament."

Mr Boyd said that the recommendations of both reports "have been fully endorsed by ministers".

He stressed that improvements had already been made and announced further reforms for the criminal justice system, including:

  • a review of the work of the High Court generally in Scotland;

  • a review of the internal Crown Office procedures for carrying out High Court work;

  • a dedicated High Court unit in Glasgow;

  • an independent Crown Office inspectorate;

  • a thematic inspection of family liaison by the Inspectorate of Constabulary, combined with a follow up inspection on race and the police in Scotland, starting in Spring 2002.

Mr Boyd concluded his statement by saying: "These reports are, I believe, more than just a contribution to a debate but mark a significant turning point in the justice system in Scotland.

"They will stand for many years to come not only as a signpost to the future but also in memory of Surjit Singh Chhokar."

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's John Morrison
"Both reports are damning"
See also:

23 Oct 01 | Scotland
Probe into Chhokar report leaks
31 May 01 | Scotland
Chhokar witness fails in appeal
08 Feb 01 | Scotland
Chhokar trial pair sent to jail
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