Missing academic Fergus McInnes was ‘upbeat’

Missing man Fergus McInnes. Pic: comp
Missing man Fergus McInnes. Pic: comp
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AN academic who disappeared after failing to turn up at a conference seemed “upbeat” just days before he was last seen, his sister said.

Fergus McInnes, of St Leonard’s Bank, was last known to have boarded a flight at Edinburgh Airport for Geneva in Switzerland last Tuesday.

The 51-year-old did not check into his hotel, attend the conference or board his return flight, and was reported missing on Friday when a colleague raised the alarm.

Friends and family said the Edinburgh University research fellow’s disappearance was “out of character” .

Mr McInnes’ sister, Lorna, 41, was visited by her brother at her home in Blairgowrie, Perthshire, two days before he took the flight.

She said: “There was no sign he was going to do anything like this. He seemed very upbeat. It is very worrying not knowing and just having to wait for answers. The police have been very good at keeping us informed.”

A neighbour said police had visited the missing academic’s home twice in the past week.

Ian McKinlay, 70, said: “I have lived here for 30 years, and I would say Fergus has been here for more than ten. He has many interests. He is a quiet person but also a civil rights activist.

“Whenever I saw him, he was running to the croquet club. He was always in a rush. He lived on his own and I always felt that was a personal choice. I am shocked by this.

“Two of his colleagues came to the flat on Wednesday looking for him. People from the conference in Switzerland contacted them asking why he hadn’t turned up.”

Mr McInnes, a former Cambridge maths student, has previously battled depression, but his sister said the condition had not been an issue since he was last treated in 2010.

The Green Party member had been organising a march in Edinburgh on Sunday to raise awareness of climate change. He is also a director of Transition Edinburgh South, a small community organisation that aims to tackle environmental issues.

Green councillor Steve Burgess said: “Fergus is an active and enthusiastic participant in our local Green group and was at a meeting to discuss campaigns and plans within the last couple of weeks. Obviously, I share concern that he has not been seen for a few days and hope that he is safe and well.”
Mr McInnes, described as “one of the best players in Scotland” by John Graham of the Meadows Croquet Club, is white with ginger hair, slim and 5ft 7in tall.

Chief Inspector Richard Horan said: “We are very keen to hear from Fergus or from anyone who has information, as we are increasingly concerned for his welfare.”

Mr McInnes works at the Centre for Speech Technology Research. Edinburgh University said it was assisting police with their inquiries.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com