HC Deb 25 April 1895 vol 32 cc1612-3

On behalf of the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. BIRRELL), I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland, whether his attention has been called to the mysterious death of a man whoso body was recently found in Ballo Loch, Fife, and to the delay of the county Procurator Fiscal in the matter, and to the delay of that official to hold a public court of inquiry into the case, and to his not ordering a post-mortem examination of the deceased; and whether it is his intention to propose any alteration of the present method of inquiry into sudden and violent deaths in Scotland?

*THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. B. BALFOUR, Clackmannan and Kinross)

The body was found in Ballo Loch on Sunday the 24th of March. Information was at once given to the police; and on the following day the Procurator Fiscal directed Dr. Hay, of Leslie, to make an examination of the body, which was immediately done. Dr. Hay reported that there was nothing to suggest that the death was due to violence, and that the whole appearances showed that it was due to drowning. As the body was still unidentified on Tuesday the 26th, the Procurator Fiscal telegraphed to Dr. Hay authorising him to make a post-mortem examination; but on the same day the body was identified by the father of the deceased, who objected to a post-mortem examination being made, as he was quite satisfied that death was caused by drowning, and that there were no grounds for suspicion. Dr. Hay again expressed himself as fully satisfied with respect to the cause of death, and the body was accordingly handed over to the relatives for burial. In the meantime the Procurator Fiscal made full inquiry in regard to the movements of the deceased since he left Edinburgh on the 19th of March. As the result of the whole investigation there is no ground for suspecting violence or foul play. There is no authority, according to the law or practice of Scotland, for holding a public inquiry in such a case; but I consider that the Procurator Fiscal should have gone as soon as possible to the place where the body was, and personally made such investigation as he could there. Except as regards the class of cases to which the Fatal Accidents Inquiry (Scotland) Bill relates, there is no intention to propose any alteration of the present law and practice of Scotland in regard to inquiries into sudden or violent deaths.