Saturday, October 31, 2009

FV Trident Inquiry and the confused sea state

If what the newspapers report is correct [1], then it looks like the Trident formal investigation is now developing into an open fight between the Government, with their desire to rewrite history, on one side, and the victims' families, who want and have the right to learn the truth about how their loved ones were lost, on the other.
In the latest twist to this public inquiry, one of the government’s paid experts, Mr Stephen Barstow, senior project scientist with Fugro Oceanor, has now put forward the official line, stating that the Trident was lost following a bad storm with gale-force seven or eight winds and 15-16ft waves.
He said that “in a lengthy storm a big wave, measuring about 27ft, was likely to roll across the ocean as well” and added that the Trident would have been ploughing through a “confused sea state” with “individual waves coming from different directions all the time”.
“The inquiry also heard that the crew of the Faithful II, a fishing boat not far behind the Trident when disaster struck, recorded bad weather and eased back on their engines.” (The Press and Journal article, 30October 2009)
While this makes for exciting reading, we prefer the official view from the first public inquiry (held in 1975 when people's recollections were fresher), which, we feel, may be a closer approximation of the truth than the one being constructed today, 35 years after the event.
With regards to the weather conditions on the day of the tragedy, the report of the 1975 inquiry mentioned that “at that time the weather was dull, with fine drizzle; wind NNE force 5 to 6; sea from NNE, fairly rough; tide ebbing northwards.”

Surely Mr Barstow, being an expert on weather, must have realised that the word ‘storm’ is a term that has a distinct meaning on the Beaufort Scale (LINK), equating to force 10 wind conditions, and that a ‘bad storm’ is usually understood to be something approaching force 11, which is just one step down from a hurricane!

We are also interested to know whether those on the Faithful II did, in fact, record bad weather and, as a result, ease back on their engines, as the current inquiry contends, or whether they described conditions as “giving no cause for concern” and “heave to with engines stopped […] without trouble or anxiety” as mentioned in the report of the 1975 inquiry (see extract below).

Earlier in the week, we had heard that another of the government’s experts, Mr Graeme Bowles, a Master Mariner, held the erroneous view that an inclining test on the Trident would not have correctly assessed her stability when at sea, and that “a dynamic stability test was usually done to check this” (LINK). Mr Bowles, it would appear, is not aware of past and current stability assessment procedures on UK fishing vessels and of the fact that, at present, safety regulations with regard to ship stability are based almost exclusively on data derived from inclining tests.

We have also read, in a previous newspaper article, that Ms Ailsa Wilson, counsel for the Advocate General, warned the victims' families that they might have to face an "inconvenient truth". Strangely, in today’s Britain, the “truth” appears to inconvenience the public more often than it does the government. Something must have gone wrong with this “truth” or with our ways of searching for it.
[1] As yet there has been no official information released concerning the evidence that is being presented in this public inquiry.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Trident public inquiry re-opens

Today marks the first day of the re-opened public inquiry into the tragic loss, in 1974, of the fishing vessel Trident with all seven men onboard.

Prompted by this occasion, we visited the official DfT website (LINK) for an update on the proceedings.

Unfortunately, it appears that the official website, set up to deliver public information concerning this important inquiry, has not been updated since 5 June 2009.

Not a very promising start!

In order to assist our officials with the dissemination of public information we have provided a (LINK) to a web page where a copy (c/o Her Majesty’s Stationery Office) of the report of the first public inquiry (1975) may be read.

We would like to hope that the public information that is promised on the official website materialises before this publicly funded investigation concludes and the Sheriff retires to write his report.

"The purpose of a public inquiry is thus to carry out a full, fair and fearless investigation into the relevant events and to expose the facts to public scrutiny. That is or should be the purpose of every public inquiry." (Lord Justice Clarke, THAMES SAFETY INQUIRY)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Brussels Underground

The governed have a right to know what their governments are capable of and serious abuses of power should not remain unreported or be condoned, as has been the case with the cover-up in the trawler Gaul public inquiry. For, if ignored, such acts will continue to be perpetrated and the erosion of democracy and the rule of law will become irreversible.

It is for this reason that we are now going to recount one of the more recent episodes in the Gaul saga, one which was played in the picturesque city of Brussels and in which, either willingly or unwillingly, several EU bodies played a part.

Between 2000 and 2006 a notable shift took place at the heart of Europe: the EU power elite gradually became aware of the fact that the federal Superstate, which they had long dreamed of and aspired to, had become an achievable prospect. The world was changing, power was shifting and the argument that a single European entity could be bigger and stronger than the sum of its member states was starting to make some kind of sense to more people. For a long time opposition from Britain, the national interests and the ‘vive la difference’ attitude of others had undermined the federalists’ expansionist aims. However, things were now looking different, new alliances were being forged between Europe’s new leaders, and Tony Blair was identified by the EU power brokers as the man who could deliver British assent to the new order – at a price [1].
In 2005, when it was feared that the truth about the FV Gaul inquiry could emerge, Britain’s Tony Blair was approaching a critical stage in his mission to deliver an emasculated Britain to the EU. A high-level and wide-ranging scandal, which would have exposed the state of moral dissolution within the echelons of Britain’s New-Labour establishment would have embarrassed and compromised the credibility of Prime Minister Blair, and thus his ability to fulfil the EU power elite’s agenda and his personal ambitions of grandeur. Such a mishap could not be countenanced. Anything to prevent this from happening was to be done, and this was all too easily possible.

Promptly, out of the woodwork, came all sorts of creatures who, zombie-like, would openly stalk us on the streets, in restaurants and cafes, public transport, shops and at the workplace - to pry, physically intimidate and proffer threats – on a continuous basis.

In public places, no matter where we sat, individuals would tag along, and sit themselves closely around us, conspicuously staring at us all the time. They would tail our car or follow us on public transport, in a manner designed to let us know they were there. We were bumped and jostled on the platforms of underground stations in such a way so as to give the impression that they were going to push us in front of the incoming train.

Thugs, haggard looking and bedraggled, like illegal immigrants after a long and rough journey to the West or ex-convicts recently released from jail, would walk past us on the street and abruptly turn around to proffer insults and threats - warning that we would soon be homeless, jobless, disabled or dead.
Various individuals loitered outside our Brussels home; flashlights were shone at our windows at night.
On returning home after outings there was sometimes a feeling that someone had been there in our absence and, on a number of occasions, we found that objects inside our house had inexplicably been broken or displaced.

Sometimes what we discussed inside (or outside) our house, no matter how personal, certain ‘work colleagues’ would also discuss the next day. They would repeat, almost word for word, fragments of the conversations we had exchanged in the privacy of our home, and even poke fun at some of our topics and at the surprise that their ‘telepathic qualities’ aroused. Details of our car journeys, including deviations from the route or halts taken would also be mentioned or hinted at, in passing.

Personal biographies were uncovered and thrashed out without courtesy or discretion by the same individuals. Smears were circulated in the background. Being conspicuous and offensive must have been, we reckon, a key part of their role.

Our car was tampered with, and only by a stroke of luck unpleasant consequences were averted.
Our communications were crudely monitored, as we ourselves could hear, and, in some instances, our phone calls and mail were diverted.

Our acquaintances, friends and family were also intruded upon and, at work, we were placed within a buffer of chosen and 'trusted friends’, while the rest of our work colleagues somehow knew they had to keep their distance, as if we had been under strict quarantine for some highly contagious disease.

Some of the locally hired domestic help and service contractors, after gaining access to our home, took the opportunity to snoop around and, on a few occasions, attempted to openly bully or intimidate us.
Even some of our friends were made to deliver thinly veiled warnings so as to convince us to remain silent.

All of a sudden, food poisoning became a frequent occurrence; medical tests would start to go wrong and be unnecessarily painful, we would be more often mistakenly overcharged for the cost of services and utilities, and every little enterprise we were engaged in would become ever more difficult and stressful.

A well-coordinated campaign of harassment by work associates, public bodies and various others was conducted with - though in some rare laudable cases without - zeal. “Everybody can be bought”, one insider intimated referring to what was going on.
We wondered how much this charade was costing and who was able to sponsor such an extensive operation; “Zee Inglish pay”, another insider jovially informed us.

Eventually, we discovered that these measures had not merely been sanctioned, but were instigated from within the highest levels of the British administration.
We considered making appeal to the law, but that was not going to be easy. Conversations with our solicitor were also crudely monitored, and then, one day, he decided abruptly to drop us as clients.

Lawyers, independent organisations and even some of the journalists whom we had eventually managed to contact for assistance admitted more or less openly that there was little they could do or had the courage to try, while, as someone explained, “they can do anything, just like in the X and Y cases”.

Occasionally, temptations would be laid before us, bribes and sweeteners discreetly offered, and the prospect of a carefree and comfortable existence subtly promised in return for our capitulation.
I myself have received thousands of pounds on a government contract, which, as it later turned out, did not actually make it possible or require me to deliver anything, but just to relax and get paid.
When the bribery did not work, hostilities were resumed and our professional careers were wrecked.

This is not going to last forever, the right-minded majority will not tolerate such regime for very much longer“, we thought at the time; “Don’t underestimate the voters’ credulity and the ruthlessness of the system” a cynic commented.

It is of course hard to describe in detail everything we have learned about the tactics of our new masters, what this brief account refers to being just a prelude to our subsequent experiences in Britain, which turned out to be a lot harsher.
We will, of course, continue, as we must, with the sequel and try to reveal a few more details about the Gaul saga and its ever-expanding cover-up.
I am pretty sure, however, that what we came across were only a few manifestations of the abusive power that the system has at its disposal, as I am also sure that we are not the only ones to have experienced them.

It is important to reveal these things to the public because they are not only about a fishing trawler and the betrayal of its victims; they are also about the rest of us and, more importantly, about our democracy, which is now slipping through our fingers, like the precious water of Choaspes.


[1] Tony Blair is now set to become the first President of the European Council.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Ireland, where are you going?

Today, Ireland votes again on the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty while, with bated breath, we are all waiting to see whether or not theirs will be the final democratic act to take place in Europe.
We are anxious to learn whether the Irish people are now willing to sacrifice their freedoms to the illusion of some borrowed prosperity, or whether, firm in the belief that they meant No when they said No first time around, they will deliver the same answer.
Sadly, the odds are that, this time, Ireland will take the route which leads to super-state, undemocratic, Europe, and into the welcoming arms of President Blair.