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Public apology could be made in 'spying on journalists' case

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

A report which led to seven police officers being investigated over alleged misconduct has been published.

Durham Constabulary carried out the independent review after the now-disbanded Police Scotland counter-corruption unit was found to have breached guidelines on accessing data.

It surrounds a row linked to journalist sources regarding the investigation into the murder of Emma Caldwell in 2005.

Durham found it was reasonable to infer the officers could have committed misconduct but a more focused investigation was needed.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is currently carrying out the misconduct probe and the officers could face dismissal if the allegations are confirmed.

Following its release, Convener of the Justice Sub-Committee on Policing Mary Fee MSP said it was likely more senior officers will be called to "explain themselves".

Ms Fee said: "This lastest information to come to light in the long running saga of Police Scotland's CCU needs to be digested and then scrutinised by MSPs.

"As we head towards the new year, I think one safe prediction for 2018 is that more senior police officers will be appearing before committees of the Scottish Parliament to explain themselves."

The Justice Sub-Committee on Policing received the report on Thursday.

Ms Caldwell, 27, had been working as a prostitute when her body was found in woods near Roberton, South Lanarkshire, and the case remains unsolved.

The Durham investigation was sparked following a review by the Interception of Communications Commissioner's Office in response to fears that police had been ''illegally spying on journalists''.

Police Scotland had been trying to establish how confidential information had appeared in newspapers.

Complaints were lodged by two serving and two retired officers regarding the data breach.

The report also said an eighth officer should be considered for misconduct proceedings.

Two former officers were identified as having potential to be investigated, but have now retired.

The report recommends compensation and a public apology should be considered for the complainants.