Telford hangings: Police chief apologises to family

The Chief Constable of West Mercia has formally apologised to the family of two black men found mysteriously hanged in Telford.

Peter Hampson said he was "very sorry" that the service which the McGowan family has received from his officers had been "less than satisfactory". The apology is a vindication of the family's concerns that the deaths of Errol and Jason McGowan were not properly investigated.

In a letter to the family this week, Mr Hampson said: "I am very sorry that the service we have given you in the past has been less than satisfactory and hope that you might be able to accept this apology."

Last night, one of the family's solicitors, Imran Khan, said: "As far as the family and its legal advisers are concerned this is a clear acceptance and acknowledgement that mistakes occurred in the initial investigations into the deaths of Errol and Jason McGowan."

He said: "Obviously, the family are very pleased that it has come now rather than waiting six years like the family of [the murdered black teenager] Stephen Lawrence, but an apology cannot make up for the mistakes that were made."

Last month, Mr Hampson agreed to reopen the investigations into the deaths of both men but the McGowan family said it had no confidence in the force and called for the inquiry to be carried out by Scotland Yard. After a meeting earlier this month between the family, its legal advisers and the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, Mr Hampson this week appointed Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Grieve, the Yard's senior expert in the investigation of race crime, as his special adviser on the inquiry.

Yesterday Mr Grieve visited the incident room at Telford police station and held discussions with senior officers working on the case.