Police apologise over racist murder of Chinese man


Sorry seems to be the hardest word to say but not for the top cop at Lothian and Borders Police in Scotland, who issued an apology to a family of a Chinese man murdered in a hate crime last summer.

Delivery driver Simon San, who was born in Vietnam, was ambushed outside his family's takeaway by a gang of youths and killed by 16-year-old John Reid in August 2010. At the time, the murder was treated with contempt by the police, with one officer telling the family that the attack was "minor" and San was in the "wrong place at the wrong time". Reid was jailed for five years while Michael Roberts and Keir Rodger, both 16, got 42 months and 34 months respectively for assault.

There was also strong evidence that the murder was racially motivated, with witnesses who said the gang called him a "Chinky" after the attack. But Police refused to treat it as a hate crime, claiming it was a robbery as Roberts admitted stealing the 40-year-old's car keys and phone.

San’s family have been fighting for a long time for the Police to admit they made mistakes during the investigation and that there was a racial motive to the murder. Deputy Chief Constable Steve Allen stood before the waiting media and the grieving family yesterday and made three public apologies for his Force's incompetence.

Allen said,

"I am sorry we did not record and investigate the attack on Simon as a racist incident when we should have done so. I am sorry we did not listen to you when you told us you thought the attack was racially motivated. I am sorry we did not treat you in a way that made you feel like you mattered."

The Lothian and Borders Police Force also said sorry for a string of insensitive statements made to San’s relatives by a senior officer.

Allen added,

"San was not in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was a fellow citizen who was killed tragically and pointlessly."

But despite the apology from the police, San's family have another battle on their hands with Scotland's top prosecutor Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC, refusing to order a probe into the Crown's decision not to treat the attack as racist when the case came to court.

It is an added blow for the family, who have admitted the police's apology brings them little peace following their loss.

Simply saying sorry is not be enough absolve police incompetence, or restore confidence in the system. Family lawyer Aamer Anwar has called for an Inquiry, as it will go some way to put trust back in the justice system, and the fear is that if Mulholland doesn't reconsider, it may be another family which will have to fight for answers from the authorities.

Picture: Simon San