On 25 January 2006, the Gaul RFI experts panel presented a paper entitled ‘The Loss of the M.F.V Gaul’ (see http://www.bctq.com/downloads/Gaul.pdf) to the Royal Institution of Naval Architects. This paper - a summary on the work the experts had concluded during the 2004 RFI - flatly states:
“There was no logical reason why the duff and offal chute lids were secured in the open position, whilst dodging, other than crew error. It is also difficult to understand why the flap valves were jammed in the open position other than bad maintenance onboard or shore.”
Familiar perhaps with the old wisdom that a good slogan can stop fifty years of analysis, or maybe emboldened by the calm passage of time, the Gaul experts claimed in their paper more certainty for the results of the 2004 RFI than the course of the proceedings ever warranted, and confidently put forward a more unequivocal explanation for the open state of the chutes’ inner lids.
Thus, what justice Steel and his associates had delicately implied at the end of the RFI, fourteen months later, the experts laid down in more explicit language, adding extra detail, specificity and emphasis to what the legal staff had left unsaid.
Had our Gaul experts been more scrupulous in checking their notes, the RFI transcripts of evidence and the final report, they would have remembered that the duff and offal chutes’ lids had not actually been found secured in the open position. Though, of course, the implication that the lids had been found so allowed the crew error/negligence label to be much more easily attached.