Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Pre-emptive actions

Those who have read our post of 27 February 2007 will remember that a design fault in the duff and offal chutes on the FV Gaul was identified by the MCA in March 2002 and put forward as a possible cause for her loss. (See the email reproduced in our above-mentioned post)
In July 2002, the information obtained from the MAIB underwater survey supported this proposition, as the chutes on the shipwreck had both been found to be open.
The Gaul Formal Investigation (RFI) commenced in January 2004, and its final report, delivered twelve months later, concluded that the ship had sunk due to crew and shore staff error.
What is interesting, or rather worrying, to note, especially in the light of our previous post, is the fact that the naval architect who had initially identified the design fault on the Gaul in 2002 has been kept under the spotlight ever since - unseen celestial forces set at work against him, making him wonder, for two years and a half, how a ship nerd could have incurred the wrath of the all-powerful gods.
He would only discover the reason for his punishment after the publication of the final report, at the end of 2004, when he could see for himself that the outcome of the RFI didn’t quite accord with the evidence he knew had been provided to the inquiry.
It was then when he finally realised that the reason was simple: to neutralise the person who knew that the result of the investigation was unsound and designed to preclude any subsequent unfavourable litigation.
After the 2004 RFI, the government’s pressure continued, with bouts of hostility marking each of his attempts to shed light on this matter.

Bearing all these in mind, we can now infer that, although the suppression of evidence in a public inquiry was a risky business, those in power - comfortably installed in the conviction that they had the ability to crush the prying ‘small guy’ and take care of any other loose ends - decided to do it anyway. And this decision was taken two years before the opening of the formal investigation.

Of course, today, after all that has happened, it is a lot more difficult to change the results of the formal investigation; the implications are multiple and serious - one of them being the reflex questions that such an exposure would trigger, questions of the type: If the authorities were prepared to skew a fishing vessel inquiry, what would they do when a lot more were at stake?

On the other hand, if our government and their partners in business are allowed, once again, to get away with it …


“The rule of law can be wiped out in one misguided, however well-intentioned, generation.” William T. Gossett

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