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For immediate release  13.11.2013

The owners of the Flying Phantom tug boat which sank on the Clyde nearly six years ago killing three crewmen have been fined 1.75 million pounds today at the High Court in Edinburgh. Last month Svitzer Marine Limited pleaded guilty to charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Stephen Humphreys, 33, Eric Blackley, 57, and Robert Cameron, 65, died when the tug capsized in thick fog in December 2007.

In passing sentence the judge, Lord Turnbull, said that a larger fine would have been imposed had the company not pleaded guilty. He also said that he felt restricted by statute that he could only impose a fine, noting that it does nothing to help the family involved.

Commenting on the sentence, Stephen Humphrey’s wife Helen said “I welcome the fact that sentence has been passed on Svitzer Marine Limited today and recognise that the company have admitted their guilt. It is a cause of great distress to my family that Clydeport continue to plead not guilty which means more lengthy legal procedures which we have to endure.”

Andrew Henderson, PartnerAndrew Henderson  from Thompsons Solicitors who acted for the families said ‘Although the conclusion of criminal action against Switzer is welcome, it is extremely worrying that almost 6 years on from the tragic deaths of 3 men in the course of their employment there has been no Fatal Accident Inquiry held into those deaths. How can lessons be learned and similar tragedies prevented without such an investigation taking place in court?’  It is significant that Lord Turnbull identified that the failings which caused this tragedy had been known to Svitzer for some time. It is also significant that he stated he felt restricted in only being able to impose a fine.”

All three men who lost their lives were members of the Unite union. Pat Rafferty, Scottish Secretary for Unite said “By the letter of the law, justice was served on Svitzer Marine for their role in the preventable deaths of the three crewmen but today’s judgement merely reinforces Unite’s view that the law is not working for the people it should serve to protect.

“It is a scandal in itself that the victims’ families have had to endure a wait of six long years for this decision to be reached but it’s even more galling that no individual will be held responsible for Svitzer’s negligence and that the Judge cannot legally enforce changes to working practices that could prevent future fatalities.  “We need to radically change the Fatal Accident Inquiry process - something the Scottish Government can do now by fast-tracking the FAI reform proposals made by Patricia Ferguson MSP.”

BBC News Article : Svitzer Marine fined £1.7m over Flying Phantom tug deaths in River Clyde


Notes to Editors.

Port operator Clydeport Operations Limited is also being prosecuted over the incident. They have pled not guilty to the charges. A hearing will take place next month.

For further information or to arrange an interview with Andrew Henderson from Thompsons please contact Peter Henderson on 07887 687318

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