City urged to back probe into San death policing

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the city council is being urged to back calls for an official inquiry into the handling of the Simon San case.

Councillor Angela Blacklock has submitted a motion to next week’s meeting of the full council asking it to support calls for an inquiry.

Mr San died after a punch to the head knocked him to the ground. After the attack outside his family’s Chinese takeaway in Lochend Road, 16-year-old John Reid was jailed for five years for culpable homicide.

Police later apologised to the family for “significant failures” in their handling of the case. An internal inquiry revealed that officers failed to record the killing as a hate crime despite witness reports that the youths made racist remarks to Mr San.

Mr San’s family have written to the Lord Advocate demanding an inquiry into the actions of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), which decided not to prosecute the youths with a racially-aggravated offence, despite being passed the witness statements.

Cllr Blacklock is to propose a motion to Thursday’s full council meeting calling on the administration to press the Scottish Government to hold a full inquiry.

The Leith Walk councillor said: “There are two reasons why I wanted to bring the motion. The first one is that constituents of the city of Edinburgh, the San family, have been badly affected by the decision that the police and the Crown Office took because it means that they are not eligible for help from human rights organisations.

“The second reason for bringing the motion is because it’s the right thing to do. It was definitely a racist attack in my view – it was a Chinese man delivering a Chinese takeaway in an area where there wasn’t an attack on anybody else that night. A full inquiry would find out where shortcomings have been in handling of the case.”

However, the need for a council motion was rejected by Cllr Iain Whyte, who is convener of the Lothian and Borders Police Board.

He said the issues uncovered by the internal inquiry were already being dealt with through methods such as improved training of officers.

He said: “I think that motion and the nature of the motion is unnecessary and probably inappropriate for the council.

“I’m concerned it’s digging out issues and adding to issues that might not be in the family’s best interests, given that they’ve agreed closure with the deputy chief constable on the apology that he has made in a public way. I’m not sure what a further inquiry would achieve.

“The last board meeting considered an early report on this issue and will consider further reports in due course that look at the issues raised in the light of the internal inquiry.”

sgyford@edinburghnews.com