Probe into sink­ing is ad­journed

The Oban Times - - Front Page -

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.’

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