Sunday, August 30, 2015

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon: How much longer must the Clutha families wait for answers?

Nicola Sturgeon has written to the UK’s Transport Secretary demanding an air crash investigation report into the Clutha tragedy is published as soon as possible.

Ten people died when a police helicopter crashed into the roof of the Glasgow pub on November 29, 2013.

But the victims’ families are still waiting to see the report by the Hampshire-based Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

The First Minister’s letter urged Patrick McLoughlin to speed up its publication.

The AAIB had announced the report would be out in the middle of this year but now say it will be made available “in due course”.

Sturgeon wrote: “While I fully understand the need for the most rigorous possible investigation, taking account of all possible factors, I am concerned at this apparent slippage in timescale.

“The Clutha families have already waited for almost two years, and I believe they should have an assurance that the report is now nearing completion and will be published imminently and certainly before the second anniversary of the tragedy.

“I would be grateful if you could give urgent consideration to this matter and take any necessary steps to expedite the publication of the final AAIB report.”

In February, the Sunday Mail revealed Sturgeon had attacked the delays and silence surrounding the Clutha inquiry in a withering letter to the Prime Minister.

The First Minister described Scottish law officers’ anger at the “dearth of information flow and a lack of respect” shown by AAIB officials towards victims’ families, the police and prosecutors.

Sturgeon was the guest of honor at the reopening of the Clutha last month.

A draft of the final report had been circulated to “interested parties” including Police Scotland and the helicopter’s operators Bond Air Services to comment on – but not to the families of victims of the crash.

Louise O’Prey, whose brother Mark was killed in the tragedy, said yesterday that her family had still heard nothing from the AAIB.

She said: “It’s no longer surprising, to be honest, although the length of time taken to produce the report raises suspicions in people’s minds that something is untoward.

“It’s ridiculous that we don’t even know if a fatal accident inquiry will take place and we’re coming up to the second anniversary.

“The final day of the inquiry into the Glasgow bin lorry crash, which happened last December, was on Friday.”

The AAIB refused to say when the report will be published.

A spokesman said: “The Clutha investigation continues to ensure the AAIB are satisfied all evidence and any additional information has been fully considered.

“The report is now being reviewed and will be published in due course.”

Story and photos:

Eurocopter EC 135 T2+, G-SPAO,  Bond Air Services opf. Police Scotland

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