A family said they feared losing their mum’s house after her death because of the Crown Office’s bungled toxicology services contract.

Gary Nelson and his sister Emma were left in limbo for six months not knowing what killed Susan, 60, after she collapsed and died in May.

The delay was a result of a dispute between Glasgow University and Lord Advocate James Wolffe over the price of a contract for toxicology and pathology services.

A new laboratory is being sought after talks broke down earlier this year.

The delay was a result of a dispute between Glasgow University and Lord Advocate James Wolffe

Because the family were unable to prove a cause of death to their insurance company, they thought they might lose the house.

Gary, 39, said: “My mum’s death wasn’t drug related but it took 26 weeks and an intervention from an MSP
to find that out. It was terrible.

“We faced the prospect of having her house repossessed because we couldn’t provide a death certificate to her insurance company. I know of other families who have been left in the same position as us.”

All sudden and unexpected deaths are reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

Glasgow University deals with toxicology reports for 90 per cent of drug-related deaths in Scotland.

The contract between Glasgow University and the Crown Office was due to end next year after the two sides failed to reach an agreement but that has now had to be extended.

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The dispute has already resulted in long delays for many bereaved families including the Nelsons, who only received the results they were waiting on after their case was raised with Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions last week.

It is threatening to impact on Scotland’s drug death crisis as hundreds of drug death reports are produced by the unit every year.

Gary, a pharmacy community worker, added: “The Crown Office and university need to get this sorted. It is having a real impact on people.”

Labour’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “All sudden and unexpected deaths should be
investigated promptly and, for this to happen, Scotland’s vital toxicology services need to be properly resourced.

“Delays to post-mortem reports are upsetting for families and Gary and Emma should have been spared this unnecessary stress and worry. It’s courageous they have broken their silence to help other families.”

A spokesman for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “COPFS appreciate the difficulties the Nelson family have faced and the impact that a delay in confirming the final cause of death can have on bereaved families.

“The Crown is engaging with the external service provider it relies upon for toxicology analysis with the aim of reducing the backlog of this essential specialist work.”