Intention to legislate comes on fifth anniversary of Flying Phantom disaster
A Labour MSP has today (Wednesday) announced her intention to introduce a new Members’ Bill to address the current failings in Scotland’s Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) system. Patricia Ferguson MSP is proposing a Bill which will radically amend the Fatal Accident and Sudden Deaths Inquiries (Scotland) Act 1976.
There has been widespread criticism of the Act for many years due to the lack of emphasis placed on lessons being learned and around the exclusion of the families of the deceased from the entire process.
It is intended the new legislation will address these issues while setting out the circumstances where a FAI is required as well as procedures to be followed throughout the process and afterwards. Commenting on her intention to bring a new Bill before Parliament, Patricia Ferguson MSP said: “Through personal experience of working with the families of the victims of the explosion at Stockline I am all too aware how anachronistic the current FAI system is. Lord Cullen’s review of the process appears to have been a wasted opportunity with the proposals, which are yet to even be implemented, going little way towards making the system fully fit for purpose.
For these reasons I am bringing forward a Bill which I hope will garner widespread support from a majority within the Scottish Parliament.”
Five years ago today three men lost their lives in a fatal accident when a tug boat - the Flying Phantom - capsized on the Clyde. The accident shocked the nation as it took place in supposedly safe waters during a routine operation. It has been marred with controversy due to the length of time it’s taken to investigate with a decision still to be made as to whether an FAI will even be carried out.
Helen Humphreys lost her husband Stephen five years ago today when the Flying Phantom capsized. She said: “My own experience of the current system of investigation of workplace fatalities, since the death of Stephen, has allowed me to see first hand the deficiencies in the process. In particular, I have experienced frustration at the length of time taken with no resolution in sight and I have been left feeling a lot of anger at the lack of respect for Stephen's life and the feelings of his family.”
Pat Rafferty is Scottish Secretary for Unite the Union, the union of the Flying Phantom victims. Welcoming the new Bill he said: “Time and time again we have been shocked by disasters such as the Flying Phantom and then angered by a system which has no defined structure to prevent a repeat of such an incident. The process relies on pot luck as to whether or not more lives will be lost in similar circumstances in the future and we wholeheartedly welcome Patricia Ferguson’s Bill and the will to bring about positive change.” Thompsons Solicitors acted for the families of the dead in the Flying Phantom disaster as well as countless other families who have been let down by the FAI system and will be assisting with the legal aspects of the Bill. Partner Patrick McGuire said: “Scotland desperately needs a FAI system which has teeth and will actually make a difference to the families who have lost loved ones as well as providing a mechanism to ensure lessons are learned. The current system is woefully inadequate as can be testified by the many people who have experienced its failings first hand and been dreadfully let down by the process.”
A public consultation for the Bill will be launched in the New Year.
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