Friday, May 30, 2008

The doorkeepers

There is a parable in Kafka’s novel, The Trial, which begins with “Before the Law stands the doorkeeper” and tells about the difficulties that the “man from the country” has with the Law, to which he never gains access. This parable seems very relevant to what I have recently learned.
On the 20th of May I had a most interesting conversation with Mr Max Gold, the solicitor who represented the families of the Gaul crew in the 2004 RFI.
Mr Gold admitted that it did come out during the formal inquiry that the duff and offal chutes on the Gaul had a design defect, which meant that, in certain sea conditions, the vessel could take water on into the factory deck, loose stability and sink.
So, the families’ solicitor admitted that he knew all along that the loss of the Gaul had not been due to crew error, but due to a design defect.
As regards the compensation for the families of the deceased, Mr Gold made some extraordinary assertions:
  1. That, during the inquiry, the bereaved families had in fact been informed that the most probable cause of the tragedy was a design defect. (?!) (Obs. However, it appears to me that not all of them were informed.)
  2. That only a few of the families were "interested" in suing for compensation. (?!)
  3. That those who were interested in suing for compensation were advised by their barrister (Mr Tim Saloman, QC) that they stood no chance of getting any because of the limitation rules that exist on such claims. (?!) According to Mr Gold’s recollection, Mr Saloman’s expert opinion was that no action for compensation could be brought after the expiration of 15 years from the date of the victims’ death, no matter if the cause of the tragedy was only ‘discovered’ in 2004.
    (Obs. This opinion, as far as I have learned from independent advice, does not appear to be correct, the law being pretty straightforward in this respect.
    And, in any case, this could not have given any justification to the RFI panel to manipulate the results of a public inquiry
  4. That Mr Saloman’s written advice is confidential and I am therefore not entitled to receive a copy of his counsel. (?!)

I had more questions for Mr Gold, but he was in a hurry and promised to call me back towards the end of the week (i.e. last week.). Unfortunately, he never managed to.

(To be continued…)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Abuse of power

While the Minister for Transport is obstinately feigning innocence about the rigging of the Gaul RFI, we can assure you that some officials in the higher echelons of the Department for Transport and its agencies have already admitted that the Gaul Investigation was a sham.
In 2006, a well-meaning British official suggested to us that our indiscretions in respect of the Gaul RFI could only lead to deep regret. The wisdom was: why not enjoy instead the luxuries associated with a post abroad, secured by the mercy of the UK government, for as long as it lasts. (The belief at that time was that Tony Blair would sort out his business and resign early in 2007.) Speaking below his breath, another insider hinted that our prosperity would rise in proportion to our silence.
In the same year, a foreign official subtly let us know that we had been ranked as some kind of terrorists.The Home Office had apparently issued some Assistance Requests to various EU countries whose representatives were working in Brussels at that time. Our being classified as terrorists was possibly the expedient way of obtaining assistance in keeping a tab on us. (Home Secretary at the time was Charles Clarke and Jack Straw headed the Foreign Office)
Those foreigners who were aware of the situation seemed sympathetic and amazed that such abuses should happen. In their eyes, I am sure, the credibility of the Blair government must have suffered another blow as a result.
It is now time for these things to be made more widely known because, as a philosopher put it, “there is no defence against an evil which only the victims and the perpetrators know it exists.”

Saturday, May 17, 2008

FV Trident

The Trident was a Peterhead-registered seine-net trawler which sank on 3 October 1974 with the loss of seven lives.
The first Formal Investigation into the sinking of the Trident held in Aberdeen, in 1975, found that the probable cause of the loss was that “Trident took aboard a sea or a succession of seas and foundered” and that “the precise causes of the casualty” were “unascertainable”, although design deficiencies relating to her stability could have contributed to her foundering.
The wreck of the Trident was discovered in 2001 thereupon the MAIB was able to collect and examine new material evidence in respect of her loss.
On 22 March 2002 (!), Stephen Byers, then Secretary of State for Environment and Transport, ordered the re-opening of the Formal Investigation.
In 2003, 2004 and 2006, further surveys were carried out.
The RFI is under the jurisdiction of the Advocate General for Scotland. Solicitor for the victims’ relatives is Max Gold (who also represented the families of the Gaul’s crew, during the 2004 RFI).
Today, 6 years since the decision to re-investigate the loss of the Trident was taken, the RFI is still nowhere near its conclusion.
Recently, the Department for Transport advised the victims’ families that the latest delays were related to the wave tank tests on a model of the vessel.
The Trident investigation, as was the case with the Gaul, bears commercial implications for the parties involved. We are curious to see how these are going to be dealt with.
We do not wish to presume anything untoward about anybody, but only hope that the delays in the Trident RFI are not caused by the government’s desire to see first which way the wind is blowing in the Gaul saga (and whatever else might come to light), and then decide on how to handle the Trident.

Friday, May 09, 2008

We DO want a referendum

A daring man, Mr Stuart Wheeler, is taking the government to court for having broken their promise to hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty and planning to drag us heels first into a complete and self-annihilating union with Europe.
As such legal proceedings can be very expensive, he is now in need of additional funds.
As this is a fight for our collective rights - to sovereignty and democratic rule - I hope that we'll be able to collectively contribute towards the associated costs.
Call it ransom for the captives, tax on freedom or charity - the money that you will donate could be the best money you will have ever spent.
Mr Wheeler's website can be accessed at:

Monday, May 05, 2008

Continuation from previous post

The damage to the forked lug (securing clip) of the offal chute lid, which is visible in the image below, indicates that the crew of the Gaul (prior to the loss of the vessel) had secured the inner covers in the closed position. The covers were subsequently damaged when the sea burst them open.

In the above detail, the normal outline of the forked securing clip was drawn in orange

This evidence clearly negates three of the principal conclusions of the RFI:
1. That proper use of the inner covers would have prevented water ingress
This is incorrect - the above photo indicates that the covers had been used ‘properly’ but, unfortunately, this could not prevent the water ingress.
2. That, at the time of the loss, the inner covers were not closed and secured
This is incorrect – the evidence indicates that not only had the covers been closed and secured at the time of the loss, but also that the forces of the sea subsequently opened them.
3. That, at the time of the loss, there was no physical reason to prevent the crew from closing and securing these covers
The photo shows clearly that the securing arrangements were physically damaged and as such could not be used to secure the covers. It is most likely that this damage occurred ‘at the time of the loss’
Besides, the inner covers were in no way strong enough to be watertight. If they had been, they would not have been damaged.

More to come...