Saturday, April 28, 2007

The hot-potato game

In our post of 17 March, we reported on our attempts to obtain two documents held by the Department for Transport (DfT), which are mentioned in the Gaul RFI EXPERTS' PROTOCOL (paragraphs 3, 8 and 9) and which, frankly, should have been published within the final report (as was the case in the MV Derbyshire RFI).
Having failed to lodge a request for these papers via the parliamentary route, on 19 March, I sent THIS EMAIL to the DfT.
Since then, we have managed to obtain a copy of the first document (i.e. the list of “all” possible scenarios for the loss of the Gaul) from the MAIB. (This list looks quite interesting and we intend to comment on it separately, in due course.)
The second document that we would like to obtain, (i.e. the joint report, which gives details of the RFI experts’ consideration of the various loss scenarios that had been put forward during the investigation), the DfT is still not able to provide.
Chased up on this matter, the head of Shipping Policy 4, not too thrilled to hear from us again, said that the Department was now depleted of staff with intimate knowledge of the Gaul affair, so he had had to refer our request to the Treasury Solicitor. The latter, we were told, is now the only person left at the scene, able to guide the DfT in their search for the document in question.
I hope that the joint report – central piece of the £10m investigation - has not been misplaced or mislaid…
As I write these lines I am touching wood.
The list with the main protagonists in the Gaul RFI has been published HERE.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

‘Prejudice with a halo’

The RFI into the sinking of the FV Gaul, after many months spent looking at the available evidence, including the results of the 2002 underwater survey, concluded at the end of 2004 that the loss of the vessel had been caused by crew and shore staff negligence. (Obs.)
Yet, five years earlier, in 1999, John Prescott, in a flash of visionary prescience, had already anticipated its results: ”Returning to the Gaul and the Derbyshire, I don't want to prejudge the formal investigation. Indeed, I must not.” our Deputy Prime Minister said humbly; “But already the signs are that the water integrity of the vessels may have been breached, not only by the weather, but also by inadequate attention to good seafaring practice.” he, nevertheless, pressed on.
John Prescott’s statement was later condemned by the International Transport Workers' Federation, who argued that: “It is too early to say what the cause was”. [1]
The Deputy PM was subsequently proven wrong in the Derbyshire case, and as to the Gaul…
Moral: for a visionary to stay in business, his visions should, occasionally, come true.
[1] Source of information: ‘Casualties: Poor seamanship may have caused Derbyshire loss’, David Osler, Lloyd’s List, 6 July 1999

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Implausible deniability

When one of their scam operations shows signs of going wrong, our government applies what in the gangsters’ underworld is known as the kite strategy: i.e. when a kite gets caught in a tree, the handler cuts the strings. Or, otherwise said, when the operation fails, the smallest guys are left to do the explaining.

Fortunately for the potential kites in the Gaul RFI case, the above-mentioned strategy is not going to be tenable.

More will follow…

Monday, April 09, 2007

A few essential details that went missing

In any major and costly marine accident investigation, such as the Gaul RFI, one would normally expect lots of data and information relevant to the identified cause of the tragedy to emerge and be made available.
Yet, looking at the government website:, the sole repository of official information on the Gaul case, one cannot help wondering why so little was published about those things that were pertinent and central to the loss of the vessel, while many tangential issues were generously treated.
Anyway, to make up for the government’s oversight, we have taken it upon ourselves to publish some ADDITIONAL DATA from the vessel’s design plans together with a few detail views of the duff and offal chutes on the Gaul.
These diagrams, apart from adding clarity to the general arrangements on the Gaul and the construction of its chutes, also show that the RFI panel’s claim, that maintenance of the Gaul’s flap assemblies was not possible, is clearly not correct. [This latter aspect has, in fact, already been covered in the full TECHNICAL REPORT.]

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

‘Shopping’ the Government

When an omnipotent government commits what appear to be serious transgressions, where do you go to?
In a healthy society there would be plenty of alert and redress mechanisms available: parliament, select committees, government watchdogs, the judiciary, the media etc., able to wag their fingers at the transgressors and say that enough is enough.
In our case, by contrast, after having unsuccessfully tried these less drastic routes first, we had no option but to pack it all in and call the Police.
The Police have specific methods of inquiry, way beyond our abilities, and corrective powers, which are not available to us.They are also, we suspect, better equipped than us to withstand any likely government counterblasts.
Therefore, we have referred the matter of the flawed Gaul Investigation and its ‘spin-offs’ to their authority.
(For this reason we will now delay publishing the rest of the Gaul-related evidence that we have in our possession.)
We will, however, continue to inform you on the developments