Prosecutors seek Nat Fraser retrial

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The Independent Online

Prosecutors do not oppose the quashing of a businessman's conviction for murdering his estranged wife, a court heard today.

But the Crown has asked judges at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh to order a retrial in the case of Nat Fraser.

Fraser, a former fruit and vegetable seller from Elgin, in Moray, was ordered to serve a life sentence with a 25-year minimum term after being found guilty of killing his wife Arlene in 1998. Her body has never been found.

The 52-year-old returned to court in Edinburgh exactly two weeks after the UK's highest court ruled his 2003 conviction was unsafe.

Five judges at the Supreme Court in London unanimously agreed with Fraser's assertion that Scottish prosecutors breached his right to a fair trial because of the non-disclosure of evidence.

They sent the case back to Scotland, saying judges there must decide if his conviction should be quashed and whether he should be tried again.

Addressing a hearing before three judges in Edinburgh, advocate depute Alex Prentice QC said the Crown does not oppose the quashing of Fraser's conviction, but it is seeking a retrial.

Fraser's defence team, led by Maggie Scott QC, opposed the application for a fresh prosecution to be held. Details of the hearing, which will continue this afternoon, cannot be reported for legal reasons.

Mother-of-two Arlene was 33 when she vanished from her home on April 28, 1998.

Following a 15-day trial at the High Court in Edinburgh, Fraser was found guilty of her murder but has always maintained his innocence.

He lost an appeal against conviction in 2008, and exhausted all options open to him in Scotland, but he ultimately succeeded in having his case heard by the Supreme Court. Arlene's relatives have previously backed the Crown's intention to ask for a retrial in Scotland, describing the UK court's decision as "bitterly disappointing".

Members of her family, including her father Hector McInnes and sister Carol Gillies, were present in court today.

The hearing, being heard by Scotland's top judge the Lord Justice General Lord Hamilton, Lords Reed and Carloway, continues.