Sunday, December 13, 2009
Yes, £3 million is a significant amount, but it was the government alone who chose to spend this sum and what to spend it on. The new model-testing performed in Holland, for instance, was not really necessary except to bolster the government’s proposition that it was a big wave rather than poor design that had been responsible for the vessel’s loss (comprehensive model tests had already been carried out in the late seventies, which indicated that poor stability on the Trident could have led to her capsize).
This blatant bullying of the Trident widows shows the level that our government officials will sink to in order to maintain the myth that there is no gain in pursuing justice and to avoid, perhaps, creating a point of reference for other similarly contentious inquiries.
In fact, this is not really the case. In 1975, at the end of the first formal investigation, and 26 years before the wreck of the Trident was discovered, the Court felt confident enough to be able to conclude:
“The Court considers it probable that deficient stability in her design contributed to her foundering.”
Since then, the only new thing that has emerged is the evidence from the underwater survey of the wreck, which appears to attach even more weight to that probability.
Raising the vessel from the seabed may (depending on the state of the wreckage) provide the experts with some additional information that would improve the accuracy of their stability calculations. However, this is uncertain, and it may well be that, at the end of the day, the information already available from the sister vessel (and from the inclining test carried out on the Trident in Middlesbrough) provides the most realistic basis for a suitable assessment of the Trident’s stability.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
So what are these inquiries for?
Like the investigations into maritime accidents (in which we have a greater interest), the search for the truth about the Iraq war has been a process in need of several re-iterations  - each of them having left the public dissatisfied.
Confronted with the horrid necessity of having to satisfy people’s curiosity and diffuse various social tensions, governments are not inimical to the idea of setting up public inquiries, but, if there is any risk of political humiliation, they make sure that these affairs will not seek out the truth in earnest or learn any lessons from it – except, perhaps, on how to circumvent the facts more effectively next time around.
As it can be said about many other similar undertakings before it, the Chilcot inquiry could have easily not existed . Since many in the political Establishment know only too well what really happened and who is to blame and why, it would have been a lot easier (and cheaper) if the truth had been publicly revealed, without too much ceremony and vacillation, and the appropriate corrective/retributive actions had then been taken as required.
But discovering the truth is not what a public inquiry is about. Is it? A public inquiry, nowadays, is more like a communal bath – a public place of sensual abandonment and ritual lustration - where the interested parties, hiding their nudity from the public behind clouds of steam and odorous suds, soak together in opulent lather, scrubbing each other’s backs. Its purpose is simply to make them appear purer in the end, and leave them more relaxed - and smelling of flowers.
 See the Hutton inquiry and the Butler review
 Just as the MV Derbyshire, FV Gaul and FV Trident opened and re-opened formal investigations