New Appeal For Missing Botanist

31 October 2014, 08:26 | Updated: 31 October 2014, 08:36

The father of a botanist missing in Vietnam has made a fresh appeal for information a year on from when he was last seen.

Jamie Taggart, from Argyll and Bute, set off from his hotel on October 31 last year but failed to return from a plant-hunting trip to the northern mountainous region of the country.

The 41-year-old's rucksack and passport were found at his hotel in the town of Sapa.

Local police and the British embassy in Hanoi were informed of his disappearance and searches of the area have continued this year but turned up nothing.

Mr Taggart runs Linn Botanic Gardens in the village of Cove on the Rosneath peninsula. He is also a retained firefighter.

His father, Dr Jim Taggart, found out his son was missing when he failed to appear on a scheduled flight home to Scotland on November 29 last year.

"Someone, somewhere must know something,'' Dr Taggart senior said.

"It is very hard to disappear absolutely completely.''

Mr Taggart was last seen getting off a motorcycle taxi in the Hoang Lien national park near Sapa.

The area is near the border with China and Dr Taggart said some local tribes often crossed the border.

"It seems to me over the space of a year that it is probable someone has stumbled across something, but they might not want to get involved with the local police,'' he said.

"It is possible that someone might have seen him who should not have been there.''

His passport and bag have still not been returned to his family and Dr Taggart said the behaviour of the police in Vietnam has been "disgraceful''.

It took officers four weeks to let the Foreign and Commonwealth Office know that his son had disappeared, Dr Taggart said.

He said his son might still be found alive "by some very freak circumstances'' but admitted the most likely scenario was him slipping on a hillside and being fatally injured.

"We are not even clutching at straws,'' Dr Taggart said. "We just don't know anything.''

He appealed to people who might have friends or family in Vietnam: "Do they know someone from Scotland has been missing for a year there? Have there been any rumours?''

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond contacted then-foreign secretary William Hague about the case and ministers have written to the Vietnamese government urging them to review their investigation in the hope of finding new leads.

Mr Taggart's friends and the local community in Cove and Kilcreggan have raised thousands of pounds to fund searches for him, with actor Hugh Grant, whose family used to live in Linn Gardens, making a donation.