We have recently been told that the Trident families, who never got a fair and impartial outcome from the Trident Re-opened Investigation, applied for legal aid to fund a judicial review, which, if successful, could have opened up avenues for them to overturn the findings of the RFI.
The families’ application for legal aid was refused and, to add insult to injury, the legal body overseeing this matter have produced the most ludicrous and insensitive justifications possible for their negative response.
It was said that the Trident families’ request did not pass the ‘reasonableness’ test.
If we understood the legal logic correctly, it seems that concerns were raised that, having spent ₤6m to organise a whitewash, the Department for Transport may find it wasteful to spend extra money on defending themselves in a legal process that could expose the sham.
Other reasons for refusing legal aid appear to be the applicant’s age, the time that has passed since the loss of the Trident and the question of whether the costs involved in pursuing compensation would be justified by the level of compensation to be obtained, whose value the lawyers seemed unable to ballpark, despite all the statutory guidelines in existence.
Another reason put forward was that old cherry – a favourite with the DfT – i.e.:
“there is nothing to demonstrate that, had the Trident been constructed in a manner compliant with best practice at the time, the accident would not have occurred.”
Well, actually, there is a lot to demonstrate that the vessel’s compliance with the standards applicable at the time would have saved the lives of its men.
The body of evidence is overwhelming (otherwise every time there was a bit of a stiff breeze at sea, large numbers of fishing boats would suddenly capsize). The reason they don’t capsize (then and now) is because they comply with a standard that assures their safety:
- No other seagoing 25m fishing vessel, constructed to the standards that applied in the early seventies (including full compliance with IMCO stability standards), has capsized solely as a result of Beaufort 7/8 waves
- MARIN were unable to replicate this mode of capsize in the series of tests carried out on a model of Trident in Holland
Standards are not aleatory; they are based on the technical expertise and real-life experience of the most informed men in the industry and the accretions of knowledge in the field. The many trials and tests carried out and the validation of time have demonstrated that, invariably, a vessel built in full compliance with the standards that Trident should have met would survive the moderate weather and seas that are thought to have turned her over in 1974.
The whole purpose of standards is – to prevent accidents and loss of life
Strangely, however, considerations as to the public interest and value to society were not part of the reasonableness test.
But of course, this latest injustice was again politically driven, for, of late, the justice system in Britain has become a market place for political favours and compromise.