Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The closed system

“The Department is satisfied that there is no reason to doubt the outcome of the expert analysis that led to the Re-opened Formal Investigations conclusions and consequently there is no reason to re-open the investigation,” says the message sent to us by the Department for Transport on 8 October 2007.
So, the DfT are still proclaiming their faith in the merits of the 2004 Gaul RFI which, it is no longer a secret, did not lead to anything, except injustice and frustration, driving the whole purpose of a formal investigation onto precarious ground.
“You have informed me that the technical report, related documents and information published on the following sites: and, had been viewed by technical experts within the DfT before your latest decision not to re-open the investigation was taken.
I would therefore be grateful if you could tell me who these in-house experts are.”
We gently inquired the very same day.
Well, the DfT have, so far, been unable to give us the reply. They need, it seems, legal advice on how to answer the question.
Why take such precautions? We had only asked for the names of the experts involved… Is it because no in-house technical specialists have been in fact consulted? The DfT draw their technical expertise from agencies such as MCA and MAIB. These, as far as we know, have not yet been requested to advise the Department on any of the technical matters that had been raised... Is it because their advice might not be what the DfT would like to hear?
Anxious and unable to either refute our disclosures or renege the schemes of the previous administration, the DfT is therefore stuck, mindlessly repeating the same old line.

While it may first appear as bizarre, their attitude is quite explicable: the system created by our political regime cannot simply over-ride itself in order to correct the wrongs of that regime.
Inhabitants of a closed system, like the one described by the Michelson and Morley experiment, our government departments and their institutional dependants are, moreover, unable to observe the absolute actions of that system from the outside - trapped as they are within their own relativity, and so much preoccupied with self-preservation.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Making bubbles

In our post of 16 September 2007 we showed that the calculations for the pressure of the air, trapped inside the Gaul as she sank, which are contained in the MAIB report no 4/99 and were relied upon during the 2004 RFI, are incorrect.
These calculations were performed by BMT, the company which MAIB had sub-contracted to carry out this simple task on the their behalf.
Unable, perhaps, to consign the work to one of their own specialists, or even consult their encyclopaedias, or other publications such as Popular Mechanics, the MAIB decided to farm it out. Generously paid for by the taxpayer, BMT appear, nonetheless, to have got it wrong…
Anyway, when recently asked to offer his comments on the errors identified in their report, the Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents at MAIB, Mr Stephen Meyer, sent us a rather incongruous and terse reply: our emailed inquiry, he said curtly, did not provide grounds for re-opening the Gaul Investigation (?!) (His strange response reminding us of that absurdist joke with the two elephants in a bathtub; where one said “soap” and the other one said “radio”)
Well, of course our email didn’t provide such grounds: it hadn’t been intended to; it only pointed out that there was a small bit of trouble with their sums.
The rest of our technical evidence and disclosures, however, do provide the grounds - but Mr Meyer, alas, couldn’t comment on that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fahrenheit 451

The Rt Hon John Prescott has never been a scholar; there was no need for that and no one should hold that against him.
However, before the Office of Deputy Prime Minister was created, in the period between 1997 and 2001, as Secretary of State for Transport and Regions, he decided to transform the DETR and its executive agencies (e.g. the MCA[1]), through the hands of his newly appointed managers and disciples, and in accordance with his vision.
Installed in 1998, the new management of the MCA, promptly declared war on elitism – oh, that very notion the mere utterance of which would make John Prescott and his comrades go dizzy in the head – and set out to rejuvenate the Agency.
It was then when the MCA was purged of many of the ‘old-fashioned’ elements, which, in Mr Prescott’s worldview, were not ‘business-friendly’ enough or sufficiently attached to the New Labour cultural ideals. Old-guard civil servants, ex-RN officers and veteran technical staff within the MCA were systematically replaced with loyal and enthusiastic ‘new blood’.
It was also in following with John Prescott precepts, that, in 2002, the MCA had its technical Library destroyed.
Tomes of standards, both new and old, rare editions of technical books, ship construction plans and other hard to get shipping safety publications were declared useless and were committed to flames, skipped or otherwise disposed of. (It was no use explaining that these unique books showed how ships had been built; that the library stock contained invaluable technical references, historic records and other useful and irreplaceable information[2]. The official response was that all these materials, although never electronically published, should be easily picked up from the Internet.)

At the time of the devastation, worried MCA civil servants and technical staff could be seen running around, shirt-tails out of trousers, arms full of volumes, trying to rescue some of the valuable stock from destruction.

The little that is left today of that large deposit of maritime knowledge now probably resides only in the attics of a few MCA staff.
Legacy of the Prescott era, the room where the library once stood has since been sterilized and converted into trendy new offices, cheerful and without a past.
That was also the era, I am sad to mention, when the fate of the Gaul investigation was sealed.
[1] UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency
[2] Not to mention the fact that they were also a resource, which underpinned the development of contemporary maritime law.
“Janitorial work, essentially. Everything in its proper place. Quick with the kerosene! Who’s got a match!” Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

“We must all be alike…everyone made equal…A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind” Idem

Friday, October 12, 2007

Police Complaint

We feel we are now at liberty to publish (below) the written complaint that was submitted to the Fraud Squad of the Metropolitan Police earlier this year (as per our post of 03 April 2007).

(Names and other personal details have been removed from the version published online.)

The complaint is just an introductory part to the evidence we have made available for the authorities.

In due course, we will publish the follow-ups and other relevant information.

"Dear Sirs,

RE: The trawler Gaul tragedy: recent history, the Re-opened Formal Investigation (2004) and subsequent events

We consider that the matters presented below may be worthy of your attention:

My name is [xxxxxxxxx]...[xxxxxxxxx]...[xxxxxxxxx]

In the course of my work there [at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency], I had reason to examine a number of technical issues associated with the design and construction of the trawler Gaul (lost in 1974 with 36 deaths).

In 2002, the reason for the vessel’s loss was still very much a mystery; however, the case was to be re-opened and a Governmental Formal Investigation carried out.

On looking into this case, I noted that the design of the closing arrangements for two refuse chute openings in the hull of the vessel were of poor design and that, in certain circumstances, they could be expected to malfunction. I was also aware that, in rough weather, a malfunction in these arrangements, positioned as they were just above the waterline, could lead to flooding, capsize and the loss of the vessel.

I discussed this matter with my MCA colleagues and the relevant Inspectors from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch
(MAIB), who concurred on this subject. The MAIB subsequently agreed to add these refuse chutes (for disposal of duff and offal waste) to their extensive list of items for examination during their forthcoming underwater survey.

(Email sent by the Head of the Fishing Vessels Safety Branch in the MCA to the Directors of MCA Standards Directorate in

A detailed underwater survey of the wreck was carried out in July 2002, at which time it was found that the inner and outer closures, for both the duff and offal chutes, were in the fully open position, i.e. in rough weather there would have been nothing to prevent seawater from gaining entry into the hull of the vessel.

The MAIB informed me of these findings at that time, but also advised that I should not discuss or reveal this information to others in view of the forthcoming Re-opened Formal Investigation (RFI).

The Formal Investigation

The RFI, held under the auspices of the DPM, John Prescott, and conducted on behalf of the Attorney General, started in Hull on 13 January 2004 and closed on 27 February 2004; it then re-opened again on 8 October, for one day, to hear additional evidence. The final report of the Investigation was published on 17 December 2004.

Following the publication of the RFI’s final report, I was somewhat surprised to see that human error/negligence, on the part of the crew, had been put forward as the causal factor for this tragedy. I was also surprised to find out that only a very cursory attention had been paid to the design, construction and closing arrangements for these two hull side openings that were deemed to have been critical to the vessel’s loss.

A further examination of the final report and of the evidence that was presented during the RFI, (this is available online at revealed a number of inconsistencies, omissions and errors, the cumulative effect of which indicated that the conclusions of the RFI were unsound.

Since that time I have carried out a significant amount of private research, which now clearly points to the fact that a miscarriage of justice has occurred, that this has happened with intent, and as the result of specific actions and inactions by those who were charged with the conduct of this Investigation. (The Investigation was carried out under the supervision of the Attorney General’s office).

In private, some of the technical staff, who had also been involved in the Gaul investigation, expressed their frustrations as to the way the RFI had been conducted and admitted that its outcome had been unsound. They, however, refrained from speaking openly against it.

Recently, we have raised a number of questions with the investigating authorities (the Attorney General’s office (Treasury Solicitor), the DfT, the MAIB and the presiding Judge); they have all been unwilling and, apparently, unable to give satisfactory answers to our concerns.

We have also raised questions in Parliament through our local MP, the answers to which (from the Transport minister) are known to be evasive, misleading and, in some instances, factually incorrect.

One of the reasons why we are bringing these matters to your attention at this moment in time is the fact that both my wife and I have been the subject of considerable harassment during the past four years and that this state of affairs is continuing (both within and without the workplace).

We have, therefore, concluded that the only way out of this situation is to bring the facts out into the open. We have realised that the reason for the harassment is, the fact that we know that the RFI was ‘rigged’ by the Government in order to arrive at a pre-determined and convenient outcome, and that we have evidence to show that this was the case.

While guiding a Formal Investigation along a narrow course towards a pre-determined conclusion may or may not be technically illegal from a procedural point of view, we perceive that obstructing justice in order to prevent interested parties from suing for lawful compensation amounts to fraud; we also consider that this is a perversion of justice, and it is our obligation to bring this matter to the attention of the relevant authorities.

The threats, harassment and intimidation that we have had to endure throughout this period are also against the law.



The harassment we are complaining about includes various forms of offensive behaviour and intimidation: noticeable monitoring of our private and workplace communications, hassle from various government bodies, invasions of our privacy, tampering with our car, shadowing and bullying at work, stalking by unknown parties, repeated emails with distressing or bizarre content, strange phone calls and cold call visitors, various other ‘dirty tricks’ and, most worryingly for us, death threats.


We appreciate that the above contains a number of serious allegations and that it is difficult to believe that our Government would be prepared to go to such lengths on an issue such as this; however, it is suggested that this matter should be viewed in terms of the political fallout that could occur should the initial wrongdoing and subsequent cover-up in this case be revealed. We have evidence supporting these allegations and the Government knows that we have it.

It is considered that the Government’s initial motive for steering the RFI towards a finding of crew error rather than a finding of fault in the vessel’s design is based on the fact that the Government is still notionally responsible for liabilities that arise from the

UK’s shipbuilding yards that were nationalised in 19771. A design fault in the Gaul, leading to its loss, would have rendered the shipbuilders (Brooke Marine -no longer trading) and possibly the Classification Society (the organisation that certified the vessel) liable to claims for compensation from the relatives of the deceased. The sums involved could be significant: current UK legislation puts a limit on such claims at around £1.5m for each life lost.

Initially, my involvement and input into the Gaul case would have been seen as a ‘loose end’ that would need to be tidied up once the conclusions of the RFI were known (after all, as a civil servant, I am covered by the official secrets act). However, this tidying up exercise has not, as yet, led to the desired result and the scale of the cover-up has had to grow to contain the expanding scandal.

In the light of the above, we are now referring this matter to you with the hope that you will investigate the fraud and subsequent cover-up that we believe have been committed and thus help all those concerned to restore justice in this case.

Many thanks and best regards,


Contact details


The two websites mentioned below give extensive information on the technical issues associated with the loss of the Gaul, including commentary, criticism and correspondence:


1 We have raised a parliamentary question on this particular matter (2 November 2006 ref. Brooke Marine) however we have not been able to verify whether the Government’s response to this question is correct and that it reveals the whole truth. In any case, regardless of the Government’s viewpoint it would be for the courts to decide where liability for a shipyard design error actually lay. The Classification Society (Lloyds Register) is still trading.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


We were contacted today by a 'foreign journalist', curious about our complaint to the police (see the post above) and the events leading to it. He wished to obtain, he said, some sort of exclusivity in reporting 'the story'.

As we have mentioned from the beginning, we have not and we will not offer any exclusivity.
We consider such an arrangement as highly inappropriate. Our posts have been written in the public interest, free for all to see (we hope).

We do not wish to be gagged in any way.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Seventeen Techniques for Truth Suppression

"Strong, credible allegations of high-level criminal activity can bring down a government. When the government lacks an effective, fact-based defence, other techniques must be employed. The success of these techniques depends heavily upon a cooperative, compliant press and a mere token opposition party.

1. Dummy up. If it's not reported, if it's not news, it didn't happen.

2. Wax indignant. This is also known as the "How dare you?" gambit.

3. Characterize the charges as "rumours" or, better yet, "wild rumours." If, in spite of the
blackout, the public is still able to learn about the suspicious facts, it can only be through "rumours." (If they tend to believe the "rumours" it must be because they are simply "paranoid" or "hysterical.")

4. Knock down straw men. Deal only with the weakest aspects of the weakest charges. Even better, create your own straw men. Make up wild rumours (or plant false stories) and give them lead play when you appear to debunk all the charges, real and fanciful alike.

5. Call the sceptics names like "conspiracy theorist," "nutcase," "ranter," "kook," "crackpot," and, of course, "rumour monger." Be sure, too, to use heavily loaded verbs and adjectives when characterizing their charges and defending the "more reasonable" government and its defenders. You must then carefully avoid fair and open debate with any of the people you have thus maligned. For insurance, set up your own "sceptics" to shoot down.

6. Impugn motives. Attempt to marginalize the critics by suggesting strongly that they are not really interested in the truth but are simply pursuing a partisan political agenda or are out to make money (compared to over-compensated adherents to the government line who, presumably, are not).

7. Invoke authority. Here the controlled press and the sham opposition can be very useful.

8. Dismiss the charges as "old news."

9. Come half-clean. This is also known as "confession and avoidance" or "taking the limited hangout route." This way, you create the impression of candour and honesty while you admit only to relatively harmless, less-than-criminal "mistakes." This stratagem often requires the embrace of a fall-back position quite different from the one originally taken. With effective damage control, the fall-back position need only be peddled by stooge sceptics to carefully limited markets.

Characterize the crimes as impossibly complex and the truth as ultimately unknowable.

11. Reason backward, using the deductive method with a vengeance. With thoroughly rigorous deduction, troublesome evidence is irrelevant. (e.g. We have a completely free press. If evidence exists that the Vince Foster "suicide" note was forged, they would have reported it. They haven't reported it so there is no such evidence.) Another variation on this theme involves the likelihood of a conspiracy leaker and a press who would report the leak.

12. Require the sceptics to solve the crime completely. (E.g. If Foster was murdered, who did it and why?)

13. Change the subject. This technique includes creating and/or publicizing distractions.

14. Lightly report incriminating facts, and then make nothing of them. This is sometimes referred to as "bump and run" reporting.

15. Baldly and brazenly lie. A favourite way of doing this is to attribute the "facts" furnished the public to a plausible-sounding, but anonymous, source.

16. Expanding further on numbers 4 and 5, have your own stooges "expose" scandals and champion popular causes. Their job is to pre-empt real opponents and to play 99-yard football. A variation is to pay rich people for the job who will pretend to spend their own money.

17. Flood the Internet with agents. This is the answer to the question, "What could possibly motivate a person to spend hour upon hour on Internet news groups defending the government and/or the press and harassing genuine critics?" Don’t the authorities have defenders enough in all the newspapers, magazines, radio, and television? One would think refusing to print critical letters and screening out serious callers or dumping them from radio talk shows would be control enough, but, obviously, it is not. "

* We have underlined the text, which describes those techniques that we feel we have already sampled during our year- long campaign to have the Gaul case objectively re-examined.