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Saturday, September 11, 1999 Published at 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK

UK: Scotland

'No justice' for murder victim's family

Lawrence Haggart was murdered at his home in March 1996

The father of a young soccer player who was murdered has expressed anger after charges against a senior police officer involved in a botched inquiry into the death were dropped.

Rob Flett: "The Haggart family saw the inquiry as a waste of time"
Detective Inspector John Bunyan, 49, who was part of the initial team investigating the murder of Lawrence Haggart, questioned and released known paedophile Brian Beattie within hours of the Celtic footballer's death in March 1996.

Beattie was eventually convicted and Det Insp Bunyan appeared before a disciplinary committee following an inquiry into the handling of the case.

He faced five charges but, after the longest police disciplinary hearing in Scottish history, three were dropped.

[ image: Lawrence Haggart: Rising star]
Lawrence Haggart: Rising star
The father of the 15-year-old victim, who criticised the handling of the murder inquiry and accused police of harassing Lawrence's brothers, said the ruling has led to further upset.

Lawrence Haggart senior, told BBC Scotland: "Obviously we are very disappointed because we have been fighting to get a bit of justice for our family for three-and-a-half years.

"I just feel we haven't got it. There is somebody answerable to the way we were treated and as far as I am concerned nobody has come up with the answer yet."

Det Insp Bunyan was second in command of the original inquiry which allowed killer Beattie, 33, to walk free hours after he murdered Lawrence, who was a Celtic youth player, at his home in Larbert, Stirlingshire.

Instead of questioning the eventual murderer, the inquiry team were accused of harassing the footballer's brothers John and Denis, then aged 17 and 12 respectively, for over a year.

Damning report

Det Insp Bunyan, was suspended in August 1998 after the police force came under fire in a damning report.

At the end of the disciplinary hearing on Friday, a charge of neglect of duty was dismissed by chairman Sir Roy Cameron, while Det Insp Bunyan was found not guilty on two other similar charges.

The chairman, who is also Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police, found the inspector guilty on two lesser charges of discreditable conduct.

[ image: Lawrence Haggart senior]
Lawrence Haggart senior
Before the inquiry began Mr Haggart, 38, said he would never forgive the police for the handling of the first investigation.

He said he had refused to assist those on the disciplinary hearing because he believed Det Insp Bunyan would not be punished.

The disciplinary hearing, which was the longest to be held in Scotland, began on 6 April this year and called 53 witnesses over a period of 32 working days.

Beattie was quizzed by police officers within 24 hours of his attack on the young soccer star.

His lengthy record of housebreaking, arson and sexual assaults made him a prime suspect, yet officers released him without checking an uncorroborated alibi.

Beattie was jailed for life after an 18-day trial in May last year at the High Court in Edinburgh.

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