The Northern Scot's Arlene Fraser and Nat Fraser files: 2007 – Police accused of lying
This story appeared in the Northern Scot, November 16, 2007.
POLICE officers lied to the chief prosecutor in the Nat Fraser murder trial in order to secure a conviction, it was claimed yesterday (Thursday).
The Court of Appeal in Edinburgh was told two police constables who had seen Arlene Fraser’s rings in her house the night she disappeared had been “hung out to dry” because their evidence would weaken the case.
Defence advocate Peter Gray said the officers’ sightings of the engagement, wedding and eternity rings had been “extremely inconvenient” to the police and procurator fiscal service.
Mr Gray made the claim on the third day of Fraser’s appeal against his conviction for the 1998 murder of his wife Arlene.
Fraser’s defence have claimed they were not made aware of the evidence of constables Neil Lynch and Julie Clark.
The court was told detectives had tried to persuade Constable Lynch that he was mistaken, but that he had refused to back down.
Alan Turnbull QC, who prosecuted the case and is now a High Court judge, gave a statement as part of a Crown Office inquiry into the Fraser case last year.
Reading from the statement, Mr Gray said: “I’m certain I was told a police officer had seen the rings at Arlene’s house following her disappearance but prior to their reappearance on May 7.
“I was told the police officer had made a mistake and what he had seen were rings from the cistern which were found sometime later.
“I have a clear recollection of being firmly reassured that the officer concerned had made a mistake and the impression that was left was that he himself acknowledged that.”
Lord Turnbull could not be sure who had told him but believed it to be Detective Chief Superintendent Keith Wilkins.
Mr Gray said: “If this information was given to Lord Turnbull by a police officer then, one way or another, lies were being told and they were being told to the advocate depute who had the responsibility to prosecute this case in the public interest and fairly.
“There is no doubt that for a variety of reasons it was very inconvenient to the police to have anybody contradicting the position regarding the rings and whether they had been there on the night Arlene Fraser disappeared."
Mr Gray said it was also possible that the then procurator fiscal for Elgin, David Dickson, had also lied when he claimed not to have seen Constable Lynch’s statement until 2005.
“Unpalatable though it is, the only conclusion one can draw is that somebody lied. They lied to the inquiry and they lied to the advocate depute who was responsible for prosecuting this case.”
At the trial, the Crown said the rings had appeared in the bathroom nine days after Arlene’s disappearance, and could only have been put there by Fraser, proving he had access to her body after she died.
Fraser was convicted in February 2003 following a three-week trial and jailed for 25 years.
He was released in May 2006 pending the outcome of his appeal.
Mother-of-two Arlene (33) vanished from her home in Smith Street, New Elgin, on April 28, 1998.
Her body has never been found.
Fraser originally went on trial with two other men, Hector Dick and Glenn Lucas, who has since died.
The charges against Dick and Lucas were dropped and Dick, of Wester Hillside Farm, Mosstowie, Elgin, gave evidence against Fraser, claiming he had hired a hit man to kill his wife.
The judges – The Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, Lord Osborne and Lord Johnstone – will deliver their written verdict some time later.
The hearing continues.