Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fatal Accident Inquiry system review sought by Borders MSP

The FAI system comes under the spotlight today as Borders MSP Christine Grahame makes her case for a constituent to the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill after having to fight for more than three years to get the eventual FAI and conclusion, which is far from satisfactory.

As most solicitors who have taken on clients trying to get FAIs into the deaths of their loved ones, the process can be a long drawn out difficult affair, made all the worse by the mostly belligerent attitude of the Crown Office towards anyone who would seek to challenge their rulings when there shouldn't be an FAI.

There have been a crop of cases where not just an FAI has been denied to a case of an unresolved & unaccountable death, but also a lack of a proper investigation into the circumstances of that death. Many in private practice would acknowledge the need for review & reform in the FAI system, but on the other side of the coin, the Crown Office protects its right to hand down judgements as it sees fit.

The mood of the public would certainly seem to indicate a desire for reform of the FAI system but what course will the Scottish Executive take ?

Review call after barman's death (BBC NewsOnline)

A Borders MSP has written to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill seeking an urgent review of the fatal accident inquiry system.

The SNP's Christine Grahame said the time taken to deliver a ruling could cause families "unnecessary heartache".

She made her comments after the recent conclusion of an inquiry into the death of Kelso barman Stuart Foster in 2004.

A spokesperson for the Crown Office said investigating deaths had to be done "thoroughly and professionally".

Ms Grahame was involved in efforts to secure an inquiry into the death of Mr Foster who died after a drinking session Cavendish Club in Edinburgh in June 2004.

We had to fight for three years to get a conclusion to this fatal accident inquiry
Willie Foster

Sheriff Kathrine Mackie delivered her ruling on his death last week.

"It has taken more than three years for a report into his death to be completed," said Ms Grahame.

"Three years which have left Stuart's parents Willie and Margaret exhausted and ultimately devastated."

The young barman's father has also expressed concern about how the case was handled.

"We had to fight for three years to get a conclusion to this fatal accident inquiry," said Mr Foster.

"In the first instance, we waited two years after Stuart's death before we were told we were going to get one.

"It has been an absolute nightmare for me and my wife Margaret."

He said it took considerable effort to secure an inquiry.

"I think what the Crown were trying to do was sicken us in the hope that we would go away," said Mr Foster.

"I am morally, mentally and physically exhausted."

'Highly sensitive'

A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said it had to balance the difficulty of cases with the need to deal with them quickly.

"Investigating deaths is a highly sensitive and complex area of work, and it is vital that procurators fiscal investigate deaths thoroughly and professionally," she said.

"The length of time taken to investigate will vary depending on the individual circumstances of each case.

"Procurators fiscal are aware of the upset and distress which is felt by next of kin and always seek to progress matters as quickly as possible."

1 comment:

Al said...

Scotland's one man "Legal Beagle" has his finger on the pulse as ever with these very serious issues, specifically when he says:

"There have been a crop of cases where not just an FAI has been denied to a case of an unresolved & unaccountable death, but also a lack of a proper investigation into the circumstances of that death."

One such case is that of the Swedish girl, Annie Borgesson (RIP), who was found dead on Prestwick beach on the morning of Sunday 4 December 2005 under very suspicious circumstances indeed, but whose distraught and heartbroken family, despite repeated pleas to have her very mysterious death properly and independently investigated by the ever intransigent and indifferent Scottish authorities (including formal requests of Messrs Salmond and MacAskill for “help”), cannot properly grieve for Annie until they know precisely what happened in the days and hours leading up to (and subsequent to) her untimely passing.

To read more about this terribly sad and disgraceful case, that shames our shiny new Scottish Executive and is perhaps a good indicator of what we can expect from them over the next 4 years, go to the following links:

http://www.annierockstar.com/

http://shirleymckie.myfastforum.org/Condolences_for_Annie_s_family_about37.html

http://shirleymckie.myfastforum.org/sutra475.php#475

http://shirleymckie.myfastforum.org/forum1.php

__________

Also worth a read is this article from the Sunday Mail (22 July 2007):

“THEY JUST DON’T CARE” (pretty much says it all really)

http://www.sundaymail.co.uk/news/tm_headline=they-just-don-t-care%26method=full%26objectid=19493353%26siteid=64736-name_page.html