"We've met, but you don't remember me. I worked for a company you hired to have part of your memory erased." (Quote from the movie "The eternal sunshine of the spotless mind")
No, we have not abandoned the subject of the Trident RFI, and, as far as we are concerned, this matter is far from over. But we must take one thing at a time.
We have already commented on the response received from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch of the DfT following our request for their report that recommended the Secretary of State for Transport to re-open of the Trident inquiry.
In that response dated 15 December 2010, the MAIB provided us with a ‘draft’ summary report on the loss of the Trident and stated that they had no evidence in their files "that the MAIB made a recommendation to the Secretary of State that the Formal Investigation should be re-opened."
From their end, the Department for Transport have now advised us that they had also been unable to locate the document containing the recommendations made by the Chief Inspector of MAIB to the Secretary of State for Transport, prior to the latter’s order to resurrect the investigation. (According to the Merchant Shipping Act a re-opening of a formal investigation is only mandatory if ‘new and important’ evidence comes to light.)
Thus, we were amazed to learn that, at a time when the Trident RFI had not yet been closed, the government had no record of why they had opened it in the first place.
From what we have seen, it looks as though the inquiry was re-opened in order to produce the very evidence necessary as grounds for re-opening the inquiry.
So, why was £6mil spent on re-hearing the Trident formal investigation in its entirety? In our view, the inspection of the wreck did not invalidate, but added extra certainty to the original conclusions of the 1975 OFI. These conclusions were further validated by the NMI model tests, which, relative to the OFI, also constituted new and important evidence. Would it therefore not have been better to make all the historic evidence public, re-open the inquiry for one day, at a small fraction of the costs incurred, and re-state the findings of the OFI, this time, with a greater degree of confidence?
Would it also not have been better if the money spent on legal fees and manufacturing evidence had been used to compensate the victims’ families?