23/08/2011 Newsnight Scotland


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Tonight on Newsnight Scotland, was it a racist killing or not? Today,


police apologised for failing to investigate the death of Simon San


at the hands of a gang of youths as a rationly motivated crime. Yet the


Crown office say they wouldn't have prosecuted it as such. So who is


right? The MP, Tom Harris, attempts to liven the moribund Scottish


Labour leadership debate by suggesting he might run. I will ask


nim he's serious or if he's just stirring things up. It's rare to


see someone in authority apologise so fully for a mistake made by


their organisation. This afternoon, Lothian and Borders Police issued


an apology to the family of Simon San for refusing to treat his


killing as a racially motivated crime and issued a public apology.


The case does does raise issues about how the police and the Crown


office handle race hate crimes. Catriona Renton reports. I have


apologised privately to the family for that failure. I would like to


reneat apology publicly. admission of failure. Almost


exactly a year ago, 40-year-old Simon San was just doing his job at


a takeaway in Edinburgh, he was killed. Police ignored his family's


insistance that the crime was racially motivated. I'm sorry that


we did not listen to you when you told us that you thought the attack


on Simon was racially motivated. I am sorry that we did not treat you


in a way that made you feel like you mattered to us. I'm sorry that


we did not record and investigate the attack on Simon as a racist


incident, when we should have done so. No apology can bring back a


much-loved son and brother, Mr San's father spoke through his


solicitor. The findings do not offer me any peace. They merely


confirm that we were right, and that we have not been treated


appropriately by the officers. This is the darkest moment of my life.


Knowing that I'm going to be left alone in this house soon. My wife's


health was improving after an operation two years ago. Since


Simon's death, her health has been deteriorating. The inquiry also


demonstrated that racist incidents, before my son's death, were not


addressed appropriately. I feel there was a lack of respect in the


importance of my son's death by appointing an untrained officer to


lead the investigation. Mr San was part parking his delivery car when


a gang of youths attacked him. They rocked the car. He managed to get


out and call the police. He was pushed to a call and punched in the


face. He suffered severe head injuries and died later in hospital.


At no point was the attack treated as racist. A random attack,


obviously. Not a lot of violence involved. It's one punch.


Unfortunately, the gentlemen fell badly and injured his head. Really


a random and minor assault the consequences were obviously quite


severe. 16-year-old John Reid was sentenced to five years for killing


Simon San. Two younger teenagers were convicted of assault. Mr San's


family believe, had the racist element been considered, the


outcome may have been different. welcome the apology. We welcome the


findings of the police inquiry that there was significant failures by


Lothian and Borders Police. That is a matter now closed, with regards


to the police inquiry. The issue arises as to whether the Lord


Advocate will order an immediate enquiry into the prosecution


decision making in this case. police carried out an internal


investigation. Its conclusions were damning. It found significant


failings in the police inquiry. It said, the police placed little


emphasis on racist language used by the accused. Witnesses said, a


short time after the attack, the group responsible were directly


referring to Mr San as a Chinky. One of accuse had had been reported


for a racist offence. Two of the other owe accused had been charged


together where the victim was a Chinese shopkeeper. It concluded


Lothian and Borders Police had failed to recognise the attack on


Simon was racist. The Stephen Lawrence enquiry defined a racist


incident is: There are over 100,000 people from all minority ethnic


backgrounds in Scotland. Last year, 5 cle 819 racially aggravated


crimes were committed here. How many go unnoticed what are the


consequences in a local community when a crime like this happens?


There was a damage at the beginning of the inquiry. Listening to the


senior police officers today, there is a trust gained again and, I feel,


that the police need more training, so they handle the case properly.


Especially, this sensitive cases should be dealt with in a different


way. Even though the police investigation is over, there are


still questions to be answered. The Crown office says there will be no


inquiry as its satisfied with the prosecution of the case. No-one was


available from the Crown office, but I'm joined from Edinburgh by


the Deputy Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police. You saw


him in the film there. Stephen alAllen, first of all, can you


clear up, I appreciate you have apologised publicly and to the


family. What are you saying here, exactly? Are you saying, as a


matter-of-fact, this was a racially motivated attack? I think we have


been very clear today that the family, in the aftermath of the


attack on Simon, made a number of complaints about the response of


Lothian and Borders Police. Those complaints covered a range of


issues, including statement that is we made to the media, our


investigation of previous offences, issues such as the use of


interpreters during the inquiry. Significantly, our failure to


listen to them early on, when they said that they believed the attack


was motivated by racism. Our failure, at that stage, to record


the incident as a racist incident. We have worked our way through each


of those complaints with the fament family, over the last few months.


We worked our way through the findings with them and explained


those. As I said at the press conference earlier, I have sat down


with the family and apologised privately to them. They are feeling,


quite rightly, we made statements in the media publicly in the


immediate aftermath of Simon's death. It was appropriate we we


should make our apology to the family public as well. That doesn't


answer my question, which is whether you now believe that this


was a racially motivated attack? think it's important we understand


that which it is we are talking about. We apologised, I apologised


today because, clearly, Lothian and Borders Police, should have


recorded this attack as a racist incident in the immediate aftermath.


In your package you explained the definition of a racist incident,


which is any incident where the victim, or any other person,


perceive it is to be so. It was quite clear, from the outset, that


the family perceived it to be so. We should have recorded it. That,


however, is different from libeling a charge or a racialing a vaited to


the offence which depends on the evidence brought ford. That is a


matter for the Crown, not us. other words, you are apologising


for stress caused you are not saying as a matter-of-fact this was


a racially aggravated attack? number of respects, my organisation,


failed the San family. We are public servants. The criminal


justice system involves a number of organisations, all of us, I believe,


are under a duty to acknowledge where our service falls short.


reason I'm asking you this, there are mixed messages here, aren't


there? On the one hand, what you have been saying. The Crown office


today has said that, it doesn't believe it could have prosecuted


this as a racially motivated attack. It has given detailed reasons why


it doesn't believe that. The reasons are to do with the evidence


that your officers collected. Now, you are saying there is no


contradiction - With respect, I don't think there is a


contradiction. There has been debate in recent weeks about police


accountability. What you have seen today is police accountability in


real-life. This is where my organisation believes that, in some


respects, in certain respects, we have failed Simon's family. That we


have to take responsibility for those failures. Mitt we have been


clear about what those failures are. My apology was specific in terms of


our failure to listen to the family. Our failure to treat them - please,


if you allow me to finish. And, also, our failure to record this as


a racist incident. Right. As I say, there are different agencies


involved in the criminal justice process. We answered for our


actions. It is not my place to answer on behalf 6 our other


organisations. They will now do If I can quoted from the Crown


Office statement, the Crown was alert to the question of racial


motivation, and raised the issue with the police at an early stage.


After careful consideration, the Crown counsel concluded there was


no evidence to show the attack was racially motivated. They are saying


there is no need for any inquiry. That is a very different public


message about what you told them, than the message you are trying to


put up. I do not think that is correct. A guiding principle for us


in these circumstances is an issue for the family is an issue a us,


therefore if the family ask a question, we are under a duty to


provide them with an answer. The family are now asking different


questions of the Crown Office, and the Crown Office now have to


determine how they choose to answer those questions. That is the first


point. The second point, we provided all the evidence that was


available to the Crown, and his is for them to answer how they assess


that evidence. -- and it is for them. The inquiry we have conducted


found there was no additional evidence that the original inquiry


had not found that we had not passed to the Crown Office, but I


think it is important to stress that Allah apology for failing to


record this as her racist incident is not the same as answering for


the Crown. -- as a racist incident. But from the public's point of you,


what appears to be said is, we are sorry did not treat this as a


racist incident because under the terms of the investigation, if


someone feels it is, we will acknowledge that it is. But


actually, it would not have made any difference to the ways in which


the boys were prosecuted. I appreciate you are not the Crown


Office. But for a member of the public, this just looks, frankly,


Ord. I am not sure that it does. Ord. What kind of police service to


the public want? I believe they want a police service that routine


League delivers excellence, but when we get it wrong, we are


prepared to stand up and acknowledge that we have got it


wrong, and our commitment is to change to be better. Thank you very


much indeed. Iain Gray is due to stand down as


Labour leader in the Scottish Parliament, and so far, the contest


to replace him is non-existent. After May's election defeat, many


would see it as hardly an inviting job, so it's perhaps no surprise


most of the rumours are about which MSPs have decided not to run. This


morning, the MP Tom Harris stirred things up by suggesting he might


run. I will ask him what he's up to in a moment, but why would he want


the job? Labour slump as the SNP's vote


soared. Previously saved seeds tumbled, and frontbenchers were


voted out. -- safe seats. It is my view that we have to address


fundamental questions about the structure and organisation of the


Labour Party in Scotland, what went wrong, and where we go from here. I


it want to start that process. But in the autumn, I will stand down,


and it will be for the Labour Party to decide how we go forward from


there. By out as autumn approaches, there


is no obvious successor, and it is not clear what the job description


it will be. Jim Murphy and Sarah Boyack may recommend that he will


be the party leader. Since the leadership election cannot start


both to cut -- before the review's findings will be ratified, it looks


like Iain Gray will remain leader until the winter. The current


deputy leader seems to be the only MSP likely to stand. Tom Harris


says he hopes high-profile MPs will put themselves forward. In the


meantime, the silence is deafening. Tom Harris is here. You don't


really want this job, do you? actually! I have a masochistic


streak in me! What are you saying we want other people like Jim


Murphy to stand. Are you saying you just like some high-profile people


to stand? In politics, the more candidates you have, the better the


chance of action is selecting the best candidate. The better it will


be for the party. You are going to enter this race, aren't you? I have


not formally said so. I was adamant I wanted the job, the question is,


it will I be allowed to stand? We do not know if the new rules will


allow MPs to stand. If they do, you will? If I have enough support. Yes,


with all those Cabinet, I do want to stand. If you did, at what would


you say? It is inconceivable for the leader of the Scottish party to


say they would not stand. Whoever is selected as the Labour leader


will be our candidate for First Minister. You cannot be First


Minister outside Holyrood. So you would stand down and if -- next


general election? I think Alex Salmond has created the President.


So what you would do, you would have to stand down at the next


general election, leaving nuclear to stand? -- leading nuclear to


stand? That would be my ideal scenario, but who knows? All of


this is so up in the air at the moment. Why it has best been at


such a rubbish debate? The party is still in a shop. -- in a shock. I


am getting impatient that we have had four months of the SNP setting


debates in Scotland, and Labour not being present. You said this


morning, you didn't know whether Iain Gray was going to stand down


next month. I knew any wiser this evening? I am not. I can understand


why he wants to step down. I don't understand the mechanism. Whenever


the election will happen, it is inconceivable that the election


will take place before next month, so here is suggesting he stand down


end-September. I am in the dark as You were going to explain to me why


the debate has been off ought to non existent. I don't know. I think


because the party feels that wide this review is underway, there is


no point in having a debate. My announcing that I am interested in


standing will inform people there is a demand. So it is essentially a


bureaucratic process? This is all about mechanisms and the process of


the party. But what is important is having a leader but can articulate


and attractive policy and message that will go well beyond the Labour


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