Probe into sinking is adjourned
A FAMILY grieving for their dead son and brother will have to wait longer for a fatal accident inquiry – but this time at their request.
Scott MacAlister, 30, died after his boat foundered in April 2013, though his body was never found.
A fatal accident inquiry was due to begin on Monday (June 5), but will now take place on September 25, with a preliminary hearing in August.
At the hearing the family were due to represent themselves, but Sheriff Ruth Anderson QC encouraged the family to reconsider their plan and said they should have made an application for legal aid to pay the costs of being represented in court.
Sheriff Anderson said: ‘ My job is to simply to hold the inquiry and make findings in fact.
‘This is a fact-finding exercise for all the evidence surrounding the case to be heard. I will then make recommendations.
‘I remember Mr Ham QC saying, “When people are in difficult situations they are allowed to change their minds”.
‘This should have been sorted out long before this morning, but as the family now believe legal representation is the right thing to do, it is only fair that they be given the time to appoint a representative.’
Solicitor Gary Thompson opposed the postponement of the FAI saying his client, the owner of The Speedwell, the boat that Mr MacAlister was on when it foundered, had waited many years for the inquiry. He also claimed Peter MacAlister had previously sought advice from an Oban solicitor.
He said his client had only known of the inquiry for four weeks and had managed to instruct a solicitor and claim emergency legal aid.
Sheriff Anderson said: ‘ A grieving family have the right to change their mind.
‘First, they decided they were not coming to the hearing, they are now here and realise that they will be best represented by a solicitor in these matters.’
Procurator fiscal David Glancy said: ‘There will be areas of this investigation where we will be at one and areas where we will be at odds. I will not always be acting in the best interests of the family.’
After the hearing, Peter MacAlister said he felt ‘much clearer’ about the inquiry, adding: ‘We will get a bit more done with a solicitor and we will get a better result.
‘I am grateful to Sheriff Anderson for the time afforded to us this morning. We certainly got the advice we have been seeking for some time. If it had happened before today it would have saved us all quite a bit of time.’