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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 March 2008, 17:01 GMT
Detective could face corruption charges
By Mark Daly
Investigations Correspondent, BBC Scotland

A detective at the centre of one of Scotland's worst miscarriages of justice could face corruption charges.

Former Ch Supt Richard Munro
The former policeman left the force in 2004

Former Ch Supt Richard Munro has been criticised for suppressing and altering vital witness testimony in the Drew Forsyth murder investigation.

Mr Munro, 50, left the force in disgrace in 2004 after 26 years but became the subject of the corruption inquiry when he was branded a liar by the appeal court over his handling of the Forsyth case.

Mr Forsyth was found brutally murdered in his flat in Dunfermline in 1995. Steven Johnston and Billy Allison were friends of his, but quickly became suspects and in March 1996, were sent to prison for murder.

For 10 years Johnston and Allison screamed to the world they were innocent while high-flying Munro rose through the ranks to become chief superintendent.

But it soon emerged that Fife police had covered up a whole raft of crucial witnesses who saw Forsyth alive after he was supposed to have been killed.

Mr Allison and Mr Johnston
Mr Allison and Mr Johnston had spent 10 years in jail

Johnston and Allison had admitted to being involved in a scuffle in Drew's flat on Friday 3 November.

And since there was no evidence whatsoever the pair had been with Drew after that date - the convictions were 100% reliant on the murder having been committed on the Friday.

But more than a dozen people came forward to tell the police they had seen Drew alive up to five days after that day.

None of these witnesses had been disclosed to the procurator fiscal, who directs the police investigation.

Some did eventually give evidence at trial, thanks to the defence chancing upon them by accident, but at least another 10 were kept hidden by Munro's investigating team.

Convictions quashed

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission took up the case and referred it back to the appeal court suspecting that a miscarriage of justice had taken place.

Munro spent three difficult days being cross-examined in the witness box.

The appeal judges accused the officers of grave misconduct and singled out Mr Munro as the ring leader of a police investigation riddled with deception.

The judges quashed the convictions, ruling that the jury may have come to a different conclusion had they been in possession of all full facts.

The Forsyth case has now become the focus of a new documentary by BBC Scotland Investigates.

The programme traces and interviews the witnesses Mr Munro tried to keep quiet.

It also contains allegations that he

  • threatened witnesses with jail unless they cooperated
  • suppressed, altered and ignored crucial witness testimony
  • and lied to his superiors about his deception, causing the deputy chief constable of Fife police to mislead the Crown

The programme also contains a plea by the victim's mother to reopen the investigation.

Mother's plea

Mrs Forsyth, speaking for the first time since her son's death, told the BBC she thought it unlikely she would ever see her son's killer or killers brought to justice.

She said: "But I would plead with anybody who had any information at the time of the investigation and for whatever reason decided not to come forward. I plead with them now to contact the police or the makers of this programme."

Former Assistant Chief Constable David Clapperton, who has investigated some of Britain's most notorious murders, agreed to review the case for the BBC.

He said: "What Mr Munro failed to do was recognise the possibility that there might be other explanations and when he came across evidence that didn't support his case, rather than investigate it, he closed it down and suppressed that information and actually in some respects concealed it."

Mr Munro resigned from Fife police in 2004. He had been facing demotion after allegations he had sex with a prostitute emerged.

He quit before his tribunal with a 100,000 payout and generous pension of 26,000 a year for life.

Mr Munro, who denies the allegations, must now await the outcome of the Lothian and Borders corruption investigation to learn if he will face charges. A report has been sent to the procurator fiscal.

Corrupt Cops: The Inconvenient Truths is on BBC One Scotland at 2240 GMT on 26 March 2008.

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