Family’s fury at promotion for Simon San death detective

Gareth Blair was involved in the inquiry into the death of Simon San
Gareth Blair was involved in the inquiry into the death of Simon San
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THE family of tragic Chinese delivery driver Simon San today mounted a furious attack on the police, saying they had been left “betrayed” and “sickened”.

Relatives of Simon San hit out after learning that a detective involved in the heavily criticised investigation into the case had been promoted.

Simon San died after being punched to the ground

Simon San died after being punched to the ground

They said there was no explanation for the decision to promote DCI Gareth Blair to the rank of Superintendent just months after an internal inquiry found “significant failings” in the police’s repeated denials that the killing was racist.

Deputy Chief Constable Steve Allen made a high-profile public apology for the force’s failings following the case.

Today, however, the San family branded that apology a “public show”.

Their statement read: “We believe that no explanation can justify [the decision to promote DCI Blair] considering the pain [he] and his colleagues have inflicted on the family.

“We feel deeply betrayed by Lothian and Borders Police and by Mr Allen in particular. We trusted Mr Allen to do right for the family, however we now feel Mr Allen says one thing but does the other.

“Some of our family members felt sickened by the news and no longer wish to have any interaction with the police on this matter. We feel the trust we had in the police is completely lost.

It added: “We now feel the public apology was just a public show. We feel we have been lied to by Mr Allen as he continually reassured us the complaints were being handled seriously by the force and by himself.”

Mr San, 40, died last August after an attack by a gang as he parked outside his family’s takeaway in Lochend Road. Mr San’s head hit the ground with fatal force after one attacker, John Reid, 16, struck him with a single blow.

Reid, 16, was jailed for five years for culpable homicide while two other teenagers – Michael Roberts, 16, and Keir Rodger, 16 – were sentenced to 24 months and 26 months respectively.

During the initial investigation, police had angered the San family by insisting the attack had been random and claiming the victim had been “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

But the subsequent inquiry, launched following complaints from the San family, found that officers failed to record the killing as a racist crime, despite witness accounts that the youths who attacked Mr San had referred to him as a “Chinky”.

Reacting to the news of DCI Blair’s promotion, Jim Eadie, MSP for Edinburgh Southern, said steps must be taken by the police to restore public confidence and community relations, which have been “badly undermined”.

“The San family were badly let down when police failed to listen to them and record and investigate the murder of Simon San as a racial incident,” he said. “Now the family have been let down again. I am aware of the deep hurt which has been caused to the San family by this decision and I have been left in no doubt as to the damage which this decision has done to police relations with the Chinese and wider community.”

Foysol Choudhury, chair of Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council (ELREC), said: “This promotion will have significant impact on public opinion about the police and will cause considerable damage to the fragile relationship the force has with the Chinese community and wider minority ethnic communities.”

A police spokesman said: “Mr Allen’s offer remains open to meet with the San family or Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council (ELREC) to discuss the matter.”