HC Deb 16 April 1999 vol 329 cc369-70W
Mr. Alan Johnson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the Marine Accident Investigation Branch report of their survey of the 'Gaul' will be published; and what are his intentions regarding the reopening of the formal investigation into the loss of the vessel. [81161]

Mr. Prescott

The Marine Accidents Investigation Branch report is published today. The Chief Inspector recommends that there is new and important evidence meriting the reopening of the Formal Investigation into the loss of the vessel. I have today ordered the reopening of the Formal Investigation in full before a Wreck Commissioner.

I have also decided that my Department will support an application to the Wreck Commissioner that the reasonable costs of a single legal team to represent the interests of the relatives of those lost with the vessel at the reopened investigation should be met from public funds.

Mr. Roger Clarke, a senior official from my Department, will investigate why no searches were made for the Gaul after she sank. His results will be published. Mr. Clarke, assisted by a forensic scientist and forensic pathologist, will undertake the location and examination of three unidentified bodies found in Northern Russia following the loss of the vessel.

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