In the four and a half years that we’ve been running this blog, we have highlighted and commented on a multitude of serious ‘anomalies’ associated with the re-opened official inquiries into the sinkings of the trawler Gaul (36 lives lost), the OBO MV Derbyshire (44 lives lost) and most recently in the FV Trident investigation (7 lives lost).
Our studies over the years have exposed a number of common themes running through each of these inquiries, from which, in fact, a clear and recurring pattern has emerged:
- Evidence presented in court that could lead to a finding of fault or blame (and which could lead to litigation) was suppressed, while evidence supporting the government’s preferred outcome was promoted. Nonetheless, the possibility of negligence or errors on the part of the crew (who obviously could not defend themselves) was always a theme that the court’s official investigators were happy to explore.
- Over many years, public officials have treated the families of the deceased in an offhand, uncaring manner and actively thwarted their aspirations to learn the truth of what had happened and what caused those tragedies.
- A number of personnel/experts/organisations have been repeat players in two or more of these public inquiries, while in the field of physical and computer modelling and tank testing the same overseas research facility has always been chosen to deliver crucial technical input to each investigation.
- The government (the DfT), although responsible for setting and enforcing safety standards on UK ships, has been effective in distancing itself from even the slightest hint of criticism in each and all of these public inquires
With the above points in mind, and being slightly more cynical now, we thought we would re-visit the Derbyshire 2000 RFI.
On page 17 of its final official report we find that:
the UK Government cannot be criticised for failing to secure agreement…
On page 21 we find that:
This report does not recommend that the UK Government should act unilaterally…
On page 24 we read that:
The long delay […] in organising an underwater survey cannot be the basis of any criticism of the UK Government
And from page 151 we learn that:
…the UK Government cannot be criticised for reaching this solution. The Ministry of Transport and the UK delegation did all that reasonably could be done to obtain agreement to enhanced hatch cover strength.
So that’s it then, the inquiry judge has told us that the DOT, MOT, DETR (or whatever the DfT was known as at that time) cannot be criticised for anything associated with the Derbyshire tragedy.
We are now going to check up on one or two of these points.