Sunday, October 17, 2010

FV Trident Inquiry – Shredding the evidence

An article published in the Press and Journal on 8 September 2010 informed the public about the outcome of the Trident families’ quest for information relating to a hidden NMI report on the Trident’s stability reserves (withheld from them by the Department for Transport (DfT) since 1976).

In a statement from DfT’s current Shipping Minister, Mike Penning, the families were told that it would now be “impossible” to establish the reasons why the report had not been passed over to them in 1976, when it was first produced.

Following a request for further information about this report (information that would have been located within the DfT’s shipping safety research folder - reference no. MS/92/12/09), the families were told that “this file is no longer in existence, it did not disappear, but was destroyed in accordance with the routine, approved disposal agreement” (?!) and that ‘A file is reviewed after 25 years and if National Archives show no interest in maintaining the file, then it is destroyed”

On hearing this news, the families were quite right to register a complaint, but, unfortunately, the task of dealing with it was given to one of the DfT’s divisional directors, a Mr John Bagley, who piously claimed:

It is clear from documents supplied to me that on 17 February 2005 the MCA instructed Iron Mountain to destroy this file. The file was listed along with 9,777 others in the same instruction and appears to have been a routine procedure, which Iron Mountain complied with the following day when the file was destroyed by shredding. The file appears to have been disposed of in accordance with proper procedures and at a point in time which would have been well in excess of the retention period

A plausible, but unfortunate set of circumstances perhaps, or bad luck? - We think not!! [*]

In the first instance, merchant shipping files do not go to the shredder by way of a mindless, automated routine; they are sent there when they are no longer relevant to current happenings in the shipping world (for MCA policies relating to file retention and disposal see copy of memorandum below – paragraphs 2, 5 and 7 are the most relevant. Note: files containing the results of expensive maritime safety research are not routinely shredded).

Additionally, the very fact that the wreck of the Trident was discovered in June 2001 and that the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) were subsequently tasked with carrying out underwater surveys on it, meant that, in the first instance, the MAIB would have collected all available Trident files from the Department’s main file registry.
It was only after they had reviewed all official records and the results from their underwater surveys that the MAIB were able to advise the DfT’s Minister that ‘new and important evidence’ had been found - the basis on which Mr Stephen Byers re-opened the formal investigation in March 2002.

Once a maritime public inquiry has been opened (or re-opened), the normal procedure is for all official files and records to be taken into the custody of the DfT and AG (via the Treasury Solicitor) who will then decide which items of evidence should be released to the parties to the inquiry.

Thus, if the Trident investigation was re-opened in 2002 and the Trident stability file was shredded in 2005, it would seem that someone within the DfT specifically requested/authorised the file’s destruction. MCA officials would not have been authorised to take a decision on a file that was linked to an ongoing formal inquiry.

Perhaps the DfT could provide us with a justification for their haste.

(On this subject, there is, however, more to come…)

[*]  By 2005, the DfT and their retained experts were well on course for a re-write of the official records on the Trident’s loss. Obviously, if there were any historical records available from that period – and if they fell into the 'wrong hands' (the FOI act came into force 6 weeks before the Trident’s records were shredded) - then these could be read!!!!


jeannie ritchie said...

This shredding of a document pertaining to the Trident PD 111 during the RFI into the loss and the death of 7 men is just another DISGRACE AND SCANDAL. What is the Department for Transport AFRAID OF!
We all KNOW ABOUT THE 6 PLUS MILLION which has been spent to HIDE THE TRUTH


All of them who are and were party to this abuse of power should hang there heads in Shame.


gadfly said...

Mrs Ritchie,

We agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments and truly hope that, one day, these pathetic cowards will be dealt a stern measure of true justice.

Sincere regards

Jeannie Ritchie said...

The families of TRIDENT expected in this RFI to find TRUE JUSTICE
for the men who DIED

Where is THE JUSTICE in this RFI into loss of TRIDENT PD111

We the widows and children of Trident are still looking for it 36 later
If our POWERS To BE had produced what they should have produced to the families in 1976 ,the N.M.I INTO LOSS OF TRIDENT
but someone had other ideas on this.

Every day we wonder what other SCANDLE shall BECOME KNOW TO THE BRITISH PUBLIC who paid for this RFI into loss of Trident.

RAJ said...

No surprises here then ?
The one single hope I would have had for this RFI was to read the outcome and accept it, safe in the knowledge that the RFI was conducted in an open fair manner examining all the evidence available. It is now of no consequence if the shredded file was to suddenly appear as all confidence in this RFI has gone. We are of course surmising that the file was indeed connected to the Trident and await an answer from the Department on that very matter. If this turns out to be the case that the file is indeed connected to the Trident where does this leave the RFI ?

Best Regards RAJ

gadfly said...


We would have to conclude that those responsible for the conduct of the inquiry wilfully destroyed evidence that was material to its outcome.

Best regards

AJT said...

After hearing a considerable amount of this RFI first hand, I believe that an all too convienient fictitious outcome will unfold. Millions of pounds wasted and a huge injustice to seven hard working souls , guilty of no more than trying to provide for there families. Those at the OAG in charge of running this sham ought to be thourouly ashamed of the hurt and damage they have caused. This RFI has been a tradgedy in itself.
Best regards.

gadfly said...

The way the families of those lost on the Gaul and the Trident have been treated is both cruel and cynical.
The Gaul sham was the doing of the previous Labour government. However, the conduct and the outcome of the Trident RFI are solely the responsibility of the current administration.

The Coalition's Programme for Government was solemnly entitled "Freedom, Fairness, Responsibility"

What a load of b******s!