HC Deb 05 May 2000 vol 349 c229W
Ms Squire

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the reports he commissioned into(a) the efforts previously made by the Department to locate the wreck of the FV Gaul and (b) the results of the examination of graves found in Northern Russia will be published. [121343]

Mr. Prescott

Both of the reports by Roger Clarke, formerly Director of Shipping and Ports in my Department, are published today and copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

Roger Clarke's report on the Department's previous efforts to locate the wreck of the Gaul identifies lapses of corporate memory both in my Department and in the Ministry of Defence, in the latter instance following the destruction of files. We deeply regret these mistakes, and any distress they may have caused, particularly to the families of those lost with the Gaul.

Roger Clarke makes a number of recommendations on these and other matters regarding the location and examination of marine casualties. We intend to act on all his recommendations, and our responses to each of them have also been placed in the Library.

His second report deals with the investigation of a number of graves in Northern Russia which may have contained the remains of victims of the Gaul. DNA samples were taken but no match has been found. Roger Clarke's report details the way this onerous investigation was undertaken. Details which identify those who provided DNA samples have been deleted from the published report.