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BBC Scotland's John Morrison
"Jim Bollan says that if necessary he will fight for justice for the rest of his life"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 1 February, 2000, 19:02 GMT
'Justice' plea over prison suicide

Cornton Vale cell Angela Bollan died in her cell

The parents of a teenager who hanged herself in jail are taking their case to the Scottish Parliament, claiming they have been denied access to justice.

Angela Bollan, 19, died in Cornton Vale Prison, Stirling, in April 1996 after she was locked in her cell to "cool off" after an incident.

Angela Bollan Angela Bollan: Died in prison
A fatal accident inquiry later criticised one of the officers involved but fell short of formally ruling that the prison was to blame.

Her parents, former Dunbartonshire councillor Jim Bollan and his wife Anne, are going to the parliament's Public Petitions Committee on Tuesday.

The couple, from Alexandria, Dunbartonshire, say the Scottish Legal Aid Board acted unjustly last year when it rejected their application for funds to sue Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar and the Scottish Prison Service.

'Negligence' allegation

They allege negligence over Angela's death, and want to seek compensation to help her daughter Stephanie, now aged five, whom they look after.

They point to the fact that the European Court has granted them legal aid to take a separate issue to Strasbourg.

Jim Bollan Jim Bollan: Angela's father
The European case alleges that Angela's treatment in Cornton Vale breached their human rights.

Part of their petition to Holyrood reads: "The pain we continue to suffer after the loss of our daughter is deep, dark and unimaginable.

"We need to know why Angela died. We need to know who was responsible.

"Someone in the Scottish Prison Service needs to be held to account in a Court of Law for Angela's avoidable death.

Law change call

"We seek justice and truth, not just for ourselves but for Stephanie, who has an undeniable right to know why her mum was allowed to die, whilst in the care of the state."

Mr Bollan, 53, said: "I'm unemployed and Anne is on incapacity benefit, so there is no way we can afford to do this on our own.

We have been refused by an unelected quango which has been appointed by the secretary of state, who is the very person we are trying to pursue
Jim Bollan
"We want to get the law changed so that anyone who has lost a close relative in circumstances which have required a fatal accident inquiry has a right to legal aid to sue for compensation.

"We want the Legal Aid Board to drop its 'probable cause' test, in which it weighs up the chances of an action succeeding before granting legal aid.

"That would allow us to pursue our grand-daughter's case."

Legal Aid Board logo The Legal Aid Board rejected the application
"It makes me really angry that we have been granted legal aid to take a case to Europe claiming that Angela's human rights were breached.

"But when we try to get legal aid in our own country for Angela, who was a Scottish citizen, we have been refused by an unelected quango which has been appointed by the secretary of state, who is the very person we are trying to pursue."

Angela was the fourth of eight young women to be found hanged in Cornton Vale since 1995.

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said that Mr and Mrs Bollan's petition had been accepted for consideration by the parliament's Public Petitions Committee.

The committee is expected to refer the matter on to the parliament's justice committee, which will then decide what action, if any, is should be taken.
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See also:
04 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Governor's plea for women's sentencing reform
26 Aug 99 |  Scotland
Drugs main concern for prison chiefs
02 Sep 99 |  Scotland
Call for new teen offenders strategy
10 Dec 99 |  Scotland
Prison slow to tell family of suicide

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