POLICE Scotland have been accused of breaching protocol after they informed a man by phone that his brother was dead.
Wayne Everett reported his brother, Darran, missing and received a call from police asking for details about tattoos.
Shortly afterwards, Wayne, was told by phone that his brother’s body had been found and identified.
The force’s handling of the case is now being investigated by the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner.
Darran Everett, 25, left his home in Musselburgh, East Lothian, last Thursday - a week before he was due to become a father for the second time. His body was found on a nearby beach the following day.
Unaware of the tragic discovery, his family waited until Saturday before reporting him missing.
Wayne told his local newspaper he was later contacted by police.
He said: “I was asked a number of questions about tattoos and so on and then I was informed later by phone that Darran was dead.
“They breached protocol by informing the family that way.
“There are a lot of questions surrounding what happened to Darran and we want answers.”
Mr Everett is originally from Newcastle but was living in Musselburgh with his partner and young son, and was expecting another child this week.
Police are also appealing for information about the death, which is being treated as unexplained.
Detective Inspector Graham Garvie of the Lothians and Scottish Borders CID, said: “Darran was last seen at a property in Burns Wynd in Musselburgh at 6pm on Thursday, October 12.
“We are seeking to establish where he went after he left this address and prior to his body being found, and ultimately how he died.
“Darran was wearing a black hooded Mckenzie jacket with a red logo, navy jogging bottoms and blue sand shoes with a white sole when he was last seen. He was 5ft 4ins tall, of slim build and had short brown hair.
“We are working hard to provide answers to Darran’s family and friends about his death and I would like to offer my sympathies to them at this difficult time.”
Superintendent Jim Royan of Lothians and Scottish Borders Division said: “The death is currently being treated as unexplained and a report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.
“Following a review of the circumstances leading to this incident, Police Scotland has referred the matter to the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner. We will provide them with all the necessary assistance they require during their investigation.”
Asked today if the investigation would look at police informing the family of the death by phone, a spokesman said they were not able to comment. The force also declined to comment on the family’s claim that this was a breach of protocol.
Police Scotland’s Standard Operating Procedure, published in July this year, states ‘The investigation of a death whilst routine to police, will have a tremendous impact on the family of the deceased.’
It continues: ‘In addition to police attendance at the locus of a death, often officers are involved in the initial notification of a death which was not expected.
‘The initial contact with the family will undoubtedly lay the foundations for the relationship during the enquiry.
‘Officers must act professionally and responsibly at all times and remain approachable.’