THE former Scottish Secretary of State has criticised the body responsible for investigating possible miscarriages of justice and called for a fresh review of the 1994 murder of a Bangladeshi waiter.

Alistair Carmichael said the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) had failed to address concerns about the conviction of former Black Watch Soldier Michael Ross for the murder of Shamsuddin Mahmood, when he was 15 years old.

Following a trial in 2008, Ross was depicted a racist former sniper who had executed the waiter while disguised with a balaclava, in the Mumutaz curry house in Kirkwall - despite being a schoolboy when the murder took place.

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He was found guilty after it emerged that his father owned a rare type of military bullet which was used in the shooting, but the evidence was largely circumstantial and a campaign group asked the SCCRC to investigate concerns including inconsistencies in witness statements and the loss of the victim's diary, which they say could provide crucial evidence.

Ross attempted to flee from court after being found guilty but was tackled by an officials. A hired car packed with guns was found in a nearby Tesco car park

Mr Mahmood had been serving diners in Orkney when he was shot in the head in 1994.

It was not until 2006 that a witness told police he saw Ross in a Kirkwall public toilet just before the murder.

In 2014, when the SCCRC refused to refer Ross's case back to the High Court, the campaign group called Justice for Michael Ross group urged Mr Carmichael - a former depute procurator fiscal - to help them fight to overturn the decision.

Now, in a letter to the group, Alistair Carmichael said some aspects of the police investigation "might have been done differently" after acknowledging that witness' descriptions of the killer being six foot tall deviated from Ross' true height of 5ft 7ins.

He also noted his "surprise" that witnesses had not been approached by investigators determining whether there was a basis to question he conviction.

He wrote: "In any criminal trial the issue of the identification of the person accused is absolutely central. When I met Michael I was struck that, at 5ft 7ins, he is not particularly tall.

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“I suspect that, given the opportunity to do things again, some aspects of the police investigation might be done differently.

“The information you placed before the Commission went into this subject in some detail and highlighted a number of issues surrounding the descriptions offered by witnesses and the conduct of the police investigation.

"I think that these are very legitimate concerns. I agree that the Commission has not properly engaged with these issues and appear not to have analysed your submissions in the way that I would have expected.

“I was surprised to learn, for example, the Commission’s staff had not interviewed any witnesses."

But Mr Carmichael said it was "not appropriate" at this time for him to express a view on whether was Ross was guilty of the crime.

But the Liberal Democrat deputy leader added: "I know that the verdict has been controversial within the local community in Orkney and I have been approached by a number of constituents over the years who have been concerned about it."

He also criticised the way the SCCRC had set out its decision to refuse to refer the case back to the High Court.

"To my mind the thinking behind their conclusions is not as clear as I would expect it to be," he said. "I will be happy to encourage the Commission to reconsider the submissions that you made."

The SCCRC was set up to investigate possible miscarriages of justice and can review a sentence or a conviction and sentence, where concerns are raised. If, after investigating, commissioners feel a miscarriage of justice may have taken place, they can refer a conviction back to the High Court.

Mr Carmichael also appeared to criticise the original police investigation into the murder - which went unsolved for 14 years.

"I suspect that, given the opportunity to do things again, some aspects of the police investigation might be done differently," he wrote.

However the SCCRC told the Herald it was not willing to comment on the case or on Mr Carmichael's intervention.

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Speaking from prison, Michael Ross, 38, welcomed the MPs letter and said: “It’s reassuring to see that someone in a position of authority is concerned at the way the SCCRC has conducted my case review.

“Many politicians would not speak out on an issue like this. I hope that his views will draw attention to the hurdles faced by the wrongly convicted. I have very little faith in the Scottish justice system, but I would hope that my case will come before the appeal courts again leading to a retrial.”

A spokesman for the J4MR campaign, which has detailed its concerns at a website, said: “Michael Ross served his country with the Black Watch but his country has let him down. We feel that the general public would be shocked if they knew the reality of what passes for justice in Scotland. Our efforts will continue until the day he is free.”