Edinburgh crime: Former SNP councillor Lewis Ritchie's victims feel 'badly let down' by council

Victims of a former Edinburgh councillor who carried out a series of sex attacks whilst he held public office feel “badly let down” by the council, a councillor has said.

Kate Campbell, SNP, criticised councillors who she said tried to appoint her ex-party colleague Lewis Ritchie to committees whilst aware of serious allegations against him.

Richie, who quit the SNP group in 2018 amid assault claims against him, was found guilty on Wednesday of sexually assaulting three women, after a two day trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

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In a video posted online, Cllr Campbell said: “A former member of this council was found guilty of sexual offences committed during his term as a councillor against three women and he was placed on the sex offenders register.”

Lewis Ritchie in 2018 after he returned to work at Edinburgh council despite being accused of sexual harrassment

The court heard how the 38 year-old, who denied the allegations, carried out a series of sex attacks on three women between 2016 and 2019.

The former Leith Walk councillor was found guilty of forcing his tongue into a woman’s mouth whilst in a taxi, slapping a waitress on the buttocks and attempting to get into a bed with a party colleague whilst drunk and half-naked after an SNP conference in Glasgow.

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Councillor Campbell said his victims ‘feel badly let down by institutions such as the Standards Commission who failed to take action’.

She added “structures” in the council meant the chief executive was unable to prevent Richie from “entering buildings, attending meetings or carrying out his duties as a councillor”.

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And she also took aim at ‘councillors in this chamber’ who she said despite being aware of the shocking allegations “tried to appoint that individual to committees on multiple different occasions”.

“I would respectfully ask colleagues who did so to reflect on this, to consider whether their actions were appropriate and consider whether they owe those survivors an apology,” she added.

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In court, one victim remembered the incident in the taxi in 2016 as “deeply unpleasant”.

Another said she felt “quite vulnerable” when Ritchie tried to get into bed with her in only his boxer shorts and said: ‘It’s OK we’ll just have a cuddle’.

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A waitress also recalled how she “felt sexualised” by his repeated touching of her bottom in 2019.

Sherrif Fiona Tait placed Mr Ritchie on the Sex Offenders’ Register and he will be sentenced later this year.

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A City of Edinburgh Council spokesperson said: “It was shocking to hear the victims’ accounts of their ordeals in court and they deserve great credit for their bravery in coming forward. Ultimately, the behaviour of councillors is a matter for the Standards Commission to consider and decide upon but the Council took all the actions it reasonably could in the circumstances, including asking the councillor to stay away from council premises.”