Griev­ing fam­ily blast fatal ac­ci­dent in­quiry as ‘sham’

The Oban Times - - News - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

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.

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