On the rare occasions when we managed to get a reaction from them, the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch claimed, hand on heart, that their investigators role in the Gaul RFI had been limited to the mere provision of the underwater survey video footage and technical drawings. The MAIB did nothing more than “act as agents” “leaving the retained experts in the formal investigation to draw their own conclusions” as to the causes of the accident. This version of events was also backed by Dr Stephen Ladyman, the Transport Minister, in his response to a parliamentary question.
However, Para 3 of the Experts’ Protocol in the Gaul Re-Opened Formal Investigation, which was drawn up in October 2002 and annexed to the 2004 RFI final report, states a rather different thing: “A list of all possible scenarios has previously been drawn up by MAIB in consultation with the families’ experts which should form the basis for further work.” This somehow appears to contradict the MAIB’s non-interference claims.
Anxious to solve this inconsistency, we have requested both the MAIB and the Department for Transport that a copy of this list be made available to us. In reply to our request, the MAIB sent us this email. From DfT we haven’t heard anything yet – nothing, except the sound of steps scurrying away from the torchlight.