Rule review after Cheeki Rafiki verdict
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is to look at its maritime guidance notice for commercial vessels MGN 280, after Douglas Innes, whose company Stormforce Coaching managed the yacht Cheeki Rafiki, was found not guilty of manslaughter.
Four men died when the Beneteau 40.7 lost her keel in 2014. Innes was convicted in 2017 of failing to ensure Cheeki Rafiki was operated in a safe manner but the jury failed to reach a verdict on manslaughter charges.
In delivering its not guilty verdict at the retrial, the jury said it was ‘deeply concerned’ about MGN 280, which applies to small commercial vessels like charter yachts, and recommended it be reviewed and tightened.
Judge Mr Justice Teare said the technical requirements for equipment and machinery in a vessel did have legal standing, although other aspects of a general nature did not, and should be considered best practice.
Throughout the trial there had been conflicting evidence about whether coding authorities should be notified in the event of grounding. The court heard Cheeki Rafiki grounded twice in 2013. Neither incident was reported.
Section 27.7.3 of MGN 280 states the authority should be notified
‘in cases where the vessel suffers major damage’ or ‘minor damage detrimental to the safety of the vessel’.
Head of the MCA Sir Alan Massey said it would look at the jury’s recommendations on MGN 280 and would ‘review or […] amend the terms of that guidance notice’ if needed.
Douglas Innes has been found not guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence