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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 March 2006, 18:48 GMT
Salmond renews McKie inquiry call
Alex Salmond MP
Mr Salmond renewed calls for a public inquiry into the McKie case
Alex Salmond has told the SNP national council that an inquiry into the Shirley McKie case is more important to Scotland than the Holyrood Inquiry.

The SNP leader also used the gathering in Perth on Saturday to accuse First Minister Jack McConnell of a failure of leadership.

Mr Salmond said the issues in the McKie case "go right to the heart of the justice system in Scotland".

The Scottish Executive has said there is no need for a public inquiry.

The issues raised by the fingerprint scandal are 10 times as important to the future of Scotland as those that led to the Holyrood Inquiry
Alex Salmond MP

Ms McKie was last month awarded a 750,000 settlement by the Scottish Executive after a fingerprint left at a murder scene was wrongly attributed to her.

Mr Salmond said Scotland's justice system had been left exposed by "a responsibility vacuum at the top of the Scottish Executive".

He said: "The first minister cannot seriously believe a few flimsy words can divert us from a full and proper investigation into the scandal that is the McKie fingerprint case.

"The issues raised by the fingerprint scandal are 10 times as important to the future of Scotland as those that led to the Holyrood Inquiry.

'Totally inexplicable'

"However disastrous the Holyrood project, it was about a building project that went wrong."

The Banff and Buchan MP described the Mackay report into the identification as "devastating" for the reputation of the Scottish legal system and the executive.

"That is why we have seen an unprecedented cross-party initiative in the Scottish Parliament and the intervention of senior and respected figures in both the judiciary and police," he said.

"It is totally inexplicable that the investigation detailed by Mackay did not result in either criminal prosecution or a judicial inquiry.

1m target

"It beggars belief that over five years later the executive should be pretending that it can be dealt with by internal investigation and re-organisation."

Mr Salmond said that the weight of demands for a public inquiry had continued to build and that the executive would be "forced to buckle under the pressure".

The executive has argued that a public inquiry would not shed any new light on the case.

In a statement to parliament last month, Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said: "We need to consider carefully whether anything of value could be achieved by such an inquiry, how long it would take, and what impact it would have on the process of reform while we awaited the outcome."

Also at the SNP meeting, Mr Salmond set his party the task of raising 1m to fight next year's Holyrood elections.

He said the campaign to raise the money would be launched at a special conference next month.


SEE ALSO:
MSPs pressing for McKie inquiry
02 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Leaders unite over McKie concerns
28 Feb 06 |  Scotland
Minister's statement on McKie case
22 Feb 06 |  Scotland


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