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.
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.
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