Top law officer probes Angus whistleblower’s cover-up claims over hiker’s deatrh

Mr Randall's body was found near Bridge of Orchy.

Scotland’s top law officer is investigating an Angus whistleblower’s claims that police covered up a hiker’s possible murder.

The Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, is personally probing Kenny McKechnie’s claims that senior officers ignored evidence because it was too difficult and expensive to launch a murder investigation.

Nicholas Randall.

North East Scotland Conservative MSP Liam Kerr asked the Lord Advocate to review the case notes in relation to Nicholas Randall’s unsolved death.

He said: “Most people reading reports of this case would agree there appears to be more to it.

“It’s right the Lord Advocate examines this.”

Mr Randall, of Blackhall, Edinburgh, vanished in 2005 after buying a sleeping bag in a store in Edinburgh.

It is assumed he hiked on the West Highland Way as his silver-grey Audi A2 was found 47 miles away at the Glen Nevis waterfall car park, near Fort William, three months after he vanished.

© PA
James Wolffe QC.

In the following months there were sporadic sightings, including some walkers at Glen Tilt in Perthshire and Blair Castle Carvan Park where a man answering Mr Randall’s description had asked to pitch his tent.

The sightings petered out and Mr Randall’s body was found in a pitched tent by forestry workers in 2008 near Bridge of Orchy, Argyll.

When Mr Randall’s tent was discovered, two sets of clothes as well as a used condom were found.

The case was quickly closed by Strathclyde Police who suspected no foul play.

Mr Randall’s decomposed body meant the cause of death was registered as “unascertained”.

Mr McKechnie, 48, of Forfar, a former police officer with 21 years service, was close to the investigation.

He claims senior officers turned a blind eye to evidence which suggested Mr Randall was with a mystery companion.

He said management did not want to deal with the case because it was too difficult and expensive to launch a murder investigation.

Mr McKechnie said none of the evidence was investigated and the decision was made by management to incinerate everything including a black-handled kitchen knife.

He said: “The powers-that-be decided this couldn’t be a suspicious death.”

Mr Randall had been suffering from stress-related depression but was said to be in good spirits when he disappeared.

Police Scotland said a thorough investigation was carried out by a team led by a detective inspector and included forensic specialists and a post-mortem examination.

The Lord Advocate can refer the case to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner watchdog.

The Crown Office said: “Correspondence has been received from Liam Kerr MSP and a response will be issued.”