[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 11 March 2006, 18:28 GMT
Probes ordered into Fraser case
Nat and Arlene Fraser
Nat Fraser was jailed for life for the murder of his wife Arlene
Two inquiries have been ordered after it emerged relevant evidence was not made available to the trial of a man convicted of murdering his wife.

Lord Advocate Colin Boyd said it was "a matter of serious concern" that the information had not been given to lawyers for Nat Fraser, from Elgin.

He is appealing against his conviction for murdering his wife Arlene in 1998.

The inquiries will look at the way the case was prosecuted and how Grampian Police handled aspects of the inquiry.

"The primary purpose of these investigations is to establish the facts and to ensure that all relevant evidence is available for the appeal," said a spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

The lord advocate regards it as a matter of serious concern that this evidence was not made available to the defence prior to the trial
Crown Office statement

BBC Scotland has established that the evidence concerns Arlene Fraser's rings. Their alleged disappearance and re-appearance were central to the Crown case.

Mrs Fraser disappeared from her home in Moray in April 1998, shortly after waving her two children off to school.

In 2003, her husband was found guilty of hiring a hitman to kill his wife and dispose of her remains. Her body has never been found.

Nat Fraser was ordered to spend a minimum of 25 years in jail before being considered for release, but last year the Court of Appeal ruled that he had grounds to appeal.

While preparing the response to that appeal, Crown Counsel learned that relevant evidence was not made available to the defence or to the court at the time of the trial.

Next of kin

"Crown Counsel considered that this evidence should be made available to the defence under the duty which the Crown has to disclose evidence which undermines the prosecution case or may assist the defence," said the spokesperson.

"We have now provided this information to the defence as it may be of relevance to the appeal."

Arlene Fraser's next of kin have also been made aware of the position.

I sought the involvement of an outside force to ensure a thorough, independent and objective inquiry
Deputy Chief Constable Pat Shearer
Grampian Police

"The lord advocate regards it as a matter of serious concern that this evidence was not made available to the defence prior to the trial," said the Crown Office statement.

"For that reason, the area procurator fiscal for Glasgow, Catherine Dyer, has now been asked to conduct a full investigation into this matter."

Grampian Police asked the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) to investigate its handling of relevant information and evidence.

That inquiry will be carried out by a team from Strathclyde Police, headed by Deputy Chief Constable Ricky Gray.

Grampian's deputy chief constable, Pat Shearer, said: "I sought the involvement of an outside force to ensure a thorough, independent and objective inquiry to clearly establish all the facts and to assist the Crown Office and its inquiry in ensuring that all relevant evidence is available for the appeal.

"As Nat Fraser's appeal is pending, neither Grampian Police or the Crown Office consider it appropriate to add to this statement."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Watch the details of the new inquiries



SEE ALSO:
Doubts over Fraser trial evidence
19 Oct 05 |  Scotland
Wife killer wins right to appeal
06 May 05 |  Scotland
Killer Fraser lodges appeal
19 Dec 03 |  Scotland
Family remembers Arlene
29 Jan 03 |  Scotland
Timeline: Arlene Fraser
29 Jan 03 |  Scotland


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


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific