Grieving family blast fatal accident inquiry as ‘sham’
A GRIEVING family say a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into their son’s death will be a ‘sham’ unless the boat in which he was travelling forms part of the evidence.
Father-of-three Scott MacAlister, from the isle of Seil, was lost at sea on April 25 2013, when the boat he was in, the Speedwell
OB950, foundered. Scott, 40, was the only crewman aboard the prawn fishing boat when he made a mayday call.
The vessel now lies at the bottom of the sea off the island of Inish, near Seil. Scott’s body was never recovered.
At the time of his death, Scott had a six-month-old baby with his partner Tori MacNab, whom he spoke to moments before his death. Scott’s body may not still be aboard the vessel but the authority dealing with the investigation is refusing to recover the boat to find out.
In a heart-rending plea, Scott’s father, Peter MacAlister, and another son, Andrew, approached
The Oban Times to raise the profile of the case and to call for community support to have the boat raised.
Peter said: ‘We consider the evidence gathered for the upcoming fatal accident inquiry is incomplete and in certain areas the interpretation of evidence gathered by the Marine Accident Investigation Board (MAIB) is at odds with statements given to us and our own marine knowledge.’
A former seaman himself, Peter continued: ‘Only by salvaging the boat can all the evidence be properly recorded, interpreted and safe conclusions made as to future safety.’
At one point in the argument over lifting the boat, Peter was told the benefits were negligible because of the implosion and impact of the boat when it landed on the seabed. However, a diver who visited the boat on the seabed, 80 metres below the surface, claims it is intact.
Peter said: ‘ Both the diver’s observation and the police report state there was no visible damage to the hull. So this is an outrageous statement and at odds with the MAIB’s own report.’
It is only by lifting the boat, which was owned and operated by a third party, that key areas of evidence can be proven.
These include the suitability of lifejackets, the proper operation of bilge pumps, alarms, the situation and suitability of a hatch aboard the vessel and, above all, the seaworthiness of the vessel.
Scott’s family, Peter and his former wife Lala, brothers Andrew and Glen, alongside Tori and three children, want justice.
Peter continued: ‘We still have several remaining concerns about the investigation.
‘Our intention during the four years since the loss of our son is to ensure the authority involved in policing fishing vessels, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, has carried out its remit in a proper and responsible manner. Our reasonable expectation of the MAIB is a full investigation. Without the boat, it is simply not going to happen. It will be a sham.’
Sir Alan Massey, chief executive of the MCA, said in a letter to the family: ‘It is not our intention to prosecute the owner of the Speedwell.
‘For us to take action we would have to have independent evidence from at least two sources which would lead us to believe that the merchant shipping legislation, relevant to the fishing vessel, had been breached. We do not have this.
‘Boats such as the Speedwell are surveyed every five years and as this vessel sank in 2013 the last inspection was in 2009. Our surveyor would have inspected all of the items as required in the code of practice.
‘Once again, may I say how sorry I am for your loss.’
At the time of going to press. the MCA had not commented. See next week’s Oban Times.