Trident Fishing Boat Inquiry

Oral Answers to Questions — Advocate-General – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 22nd October 2002.

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Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Scottish National Party, Banff and Buchan 2:30 pm, 22nd October 2002

What her role has been in the re-opened inquiry into the loss of the fishing boat, Trident; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Dr Lynda Clark Dr Lynda Clark Advocate General for Scotland, Department for Constitutional Affairs, Advocate General for Scotland

I requested and arranged a preliminary meeting of potential parties to the rehearing and their representatives, which took place before the Sheriff Principal at Aberdeen sheriff court on 27 September. I appeared personally to deal with the wide range of preliminary issues. As the hon. Gentleman may recall, I had previously met him in his role as constituency MP and one of the relatives on 25 April, at which time I explained my role and the general procedure that regulates such inquiries.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Scottish National Party, Banff and Buchan

I thank the Advocate-General for her consideration in meeting the relatives with me. As she is well aware, they have waited a quarter of a century to find out what happened to their loved ones in the loss of the fishing boat, Trident. Can she therefore give an assurance, first, that, in so far as it falls within her responsibilities, there will be no unnecessary delays in the inquiry process, and secondly, that the families will have proper legal representation throughout the process through public funds?

Photo of Dr Lynda Clark Dr Lynda Clark Advocate General for Scotland, Department for Constitutional Affairs, Advocate General for Scotland

A vast amount of the delay was caused by the fact that the fishing boat in question was not discovered until relatively recently. So far as it is within my power, I shall certainly do as much as I can to expedite the process. The hon. Gentleman is aware that it involves highly technical work, which is dependent on the seas and the weather, so there will inevitably be further delays.

Legal expenses and representation is a matter for the Department for Transport, but the matter was raised formally at the preliminary inquiry and it is always open to parties to make representations directly to the Department.