Death investigations

FAI court process begins for man who died in custody at HMP Edinburgh

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has lodged a First Notice to begin the court process for a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of 66-year-old William Lothian.

Mr Lothian was found dead in his cell within HMP Edinburgh on the morning of 14 May 2021

The inquiry is a mandatory inquiry under Section 2(4) of the Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Act 2016. 

A Preliminary Hearing will be held on 26 February 2024 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

The Fatal Accident Inquiry will be held on 21 and 22 May 2024.

The purpose of a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) includes determining the cause of death; the circumstances in which the deaths occurred, and to establish what, if any, reasonable precautions could have been taken, and could be implemented in the future, to minimise the risk of future deaths in similar circumstances. 

Unlike criminal proceedings, FAIs are inquisitorial in nature, and are used to establish facts rather than to apportion blame. 

This Inquiry will explore the circumstances of Mr Lothian’s death, with particular focus on the Scottish Prison Service ‘Talk To Me’ suicide prevention process and the adequacy of the Reception Risk Assessment process.

Procurator Fiscal Andy Shanks, who leads on fatalities investigations for COPFS, said: 

“The death of William Lothian occurred while in legal custody and as such a Fatal Accident Inquiry is mandatory. 

“The lodging of the First Notice enables FAI proceedings to commence under the direction of the Sheriff.” 

Further information

For more information on Fatal Accident Inquiries see the Crown’s guide