[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 19 April, 2004, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
McConnell 'united' with Jamieson
Jack McConnell and Cathy Jamieson composite
Jack McConnell says the pair are "completely united"
Scotland's first minister has repeated his support for Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson over the release of teenage murderer James McCormick.

Ms Jamieson has come under fire since the 17-year-old walked free from Hamilton Sheriff Court on 8 April.

Later this week, she will address parliament about the blunder, for which security firm Reliance has apologised.

Jack McConnell said he was sticking with the policy of contracting out court escort duties.

"We are committed to the reform programme to get more police on operational duty," he stated.

"We will get through these initial difficulties in this one contract.

"But it is essential that we continue with the reforms of the criminal justice system - and to that end Cathy Jamieson and myself are completely united."

Weekend meeting

Ms Jamieson met the Scottish Prison Service, Scottish Court Service and Strathclyde Police for more than two hours on Saturday.

Afterwards, the minister said action had been taken to prevent any further blunders and she promised to reveal more about Reliance's performance in the first weeks of its multi-million pound contract.

Ms Jamieson also pledged to find out what was being done to strengthen the firm's role in transferring prisoners before the contract is extended across Scotland.

Jack McConnell and Cathy Jamieson
The two ministers at Labour's conference in February
She is due to address MSPs on Wednesday, subject to approval by the parliament's business bureau on Tuesday.

McCormick, who stabbed Thomas Loughrey, 17, to death in the Pollokshaws area of Glasgow last July, remains on the run.

Laura Reid, 16, was arrested at the weekend in connection with the probe into the whereabouts of McCormick.

Miss Reid appeared on petition in private at Hamilton Sheriff Court before Sheriff Simon Pender on Monday charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

She made no plea or declaration and was released on bail.

It has also emerged that another prisoner, who had been charged with head-butting a police officer, was mistakenly released from Greenock Sheriff Court on Friday.

But the incident, which took place on Friday, is thought to have resulted from a mix-up between the fiscal and the court clerk, rather than the fault of Reliance.




SEE ALSO:
Killer's ex-girlfriend arrested
17 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Minister reviews prison transfers
17 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Father's plea over escaped killer
15 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Killer urged to hand himself in
14 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Jamieson wins top-level support
14 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Escort boss 'sorry' over escape
13 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Probation for prison escort firm
12 Apr 04  |  Scotland


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific