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No FAI for Rory Blackhall

14 March 2006

The Lord Advocate Colin Boyd has told the Scottish Parliament that there will be no further investigation or formal inquiry into the death of 11-year-old Rory Blackhall.

Rory disappeared on 18 August 2005, having failed to show up for school in Livingston. His body was found on 21 August 2005 in Woodlands Park in the town. Over the course of the following week, police investigations identified Simon Harris as a potential suspect. When officers went to his house on 28 August, they found his body. It was clear that he had taken his own life.

The Lord Advocate said: "There was considerable speculation at the time about the circumstances of Rory's death, much of which was unhelpful to the ongoing inquiry, and some of which was upsetting for the Blackhall family.

"Based on all the available evidence, it can be said with some certainty that Rory was killed shortly after his disappearance on the morning of 18 August 2005 and that he died as a result of being asphyxiated.

"I am also able to confirm that had Simon Harris been found alive, the available evidence would have been sufficient to charge him with Rory Blackhall's murder. There is no evidence to implicate any other person in any way with Rory's disappearance or his death."

The Lord Advocate further stated he had received a full report from the procurator fiscal at Linlithgow, as well as information relating to other issues. These he identified as:

  • bail (Simon Harris had been on bail at the time, but the alleged offences had been committed many years before and there was no reason to regard him as a danger);
  • Harris's failure to appear in court, which had been treated in accordance with established practice, something which was kept under review;
  • patient confidentiality, in relation to Harris admitting himself to, and being discharged from, hospital four days after the murder, guidance in relation to which is being examined by a group set up by the Minister for Health;
  • school non-attendance guidelines, a revisersion of which will be issued to all education authorities later this year; and
  • the police investigation, a review of which by an independent force had concluded that no course of action could have prevented Rory's death.

Mr Boyd concluded: "I do not believe that anyone could have foreseen the tragic events of 18 August 2005, and there is no evidence to suggest that any one person or organisation could have done anything to prevent them. It is on that basis that I have decided that no fatal accident inquiries will be held.

"The Blackhall family and the family of Simon Harris have been made aware of this decision, and it is in accordance with their wishes."