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Commission rules against 18th century murder review

9 December 2008

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission has decided against accepting an application on behalf of a Motherwell man to examine the trial of a 250-year-old murder case.

Turning down a request to examine the Appin murder in 1752, which is said to have inspired the story of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, the Commission said it had two statutory tests it used before accepting cases for review and that the Appin case failed on the second test: it would not be in the interests of justice having regard to a number of factors, including the time lapse of 256 years.

The 18th century trial saw the Jacobite James Stewart hanged for the murder of Government agent Colin Campbell. Eleven out of the 15 jurors were Campbell and Hanoverian, and the most senior of the judges was the Duke of Argyll, chief of Clan Campbell.

The review was sought by John Campbell, the grandson of a Lithuanian immigrant who took the name Campbell. He said he had become interested in the story and felt a sense of injustice about the event, despite his clan allegiance.

Mr Campbell's solicitor John Macaulay said his client would be considering further action – either an application for a judicial review or an appeal to the Justice Secretary.

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