The brother of murder victim Claire Morris has set out on a walk to the Scottish Parliament, which he hopes will raise awareness of the needs and the rights of victims of serious crime.
Peter Morris began his walk on Wednesday morning from Claire’s graveside at Tarves Cemetery. He was joined at the cemetery by the Reverend James Falconer, who conducted Claire’s funeral 17 years ago; by MSP Mark McDonald, as well as several law students from the Aberdeen Law Project, who were there in a personal capacity, and who will walk alongside Mr Webster at various stages along his 150 journey south.
Upon his arrival in Edinburgh, Mr Morris and MSP McDonald will meet with Scottish Government Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, whom he hopes to be able to persuade to part-fund a centre which can help victims of crime embark on the recovery process from their ordeals. A reception in the Parliament has also been organised.
Mr Morris, who intends to arrive at Holyrood on 15 September, explained that each of the 17 days spent walking was intended to symbolise each year which had passed before Mr Webster was able to be convicted.
“By making this walk, I’m hoping to get a message out”, said Mr Morris. “Right now, we have a petition with 6,000 names, which we’re hoping will be over 10,000 strong by the time we arrive in Edinburgh.
“We’re looking for funding for the C.L.A.I.R.E. ‘retreat’ project, which we hope the Justice Secretary will be able to consider in principal. Even funding for a pilot project would represent a step forward.
“The idea behind the retreat is that while it’s a long road to conviction, it’s also a long road to recovery for crime victims. It’s been described as being like 2 cliff edges between a chasm which victims often fall down. There can be no justice without recovery.
“The retreat would bridge that gap. By giving people a short holiday in a very nice setting, it would give the boost which is needed to initiate the process of recovery, as well as being able to help with other needs.
“We’ve used Claire’s name for the retreat, which spells out our aim that it should be a caring, loving and inspiring retreat environment.
“Along the way, I’d be very interested in hearing other people’s experience as crime victims. A lot of people’s stories get hidden, and I hope to be able to reflect this to the Justice Secretary as well.”
Law Student Susan Gill, who will be walking with Mr Morris along part of the route before rejoining him in Edinburgh, explained that she had become involved in the campaign because she felt that support for the victims of crime needed to be improved.
“I felt it was a worthwhile cause”, she said. “There isn’t enough support for crime victims, and that’s something which we as law students are interested in changing.”
North East list MSP Mark McDonald, who walked with Mr Morris to Newburgh, will rejoin him for the meeting with the Justice Secretary.