August 9 2015: Clutha family: Why are we waiting for FAI when bin lorry inquiry is under way?

The Sunday Herald, August 9 2015

The parents of a man killed in the Clutha pub helicopter disaster want to know why a fatal accident inquiry still has not been held into the tragedy while a similar probe into the fatal Glasgow bin lorry crash was able to get under way.

Ian and Mona O’Prey say that when they heard an FAI was being held into the Glasgow bin lorry crash just seven months after the tragedy, they feared they had been forgotten.

Their son Mark, 44, was one of 10 people to die after a Police Scotland helicopter fell through the roof of the Clutha pub in Glasgow nearly two years ago. But the grandparents from East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, still have no idea when an inquiry will happen.

They still don’t know how or why their son – a dad-of-one – died.

An interim report by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) in April 2014, found both engines in the aircraft failed, but did not set out the cause. A full report into the technical cause was due to be published “in the middle of 2015” but to date there is no sign. The Crown Office said it was waiting for the report.

Ian O’Prey, 69, has arranged a meeting with the First Minister in a bid to speed up the process. He met Nicola Sturgeon at the re-opening of the Clutha, in Glasgow city centre’s Stockwell Street, last month.

Sturgeon raised concerns about the length of time the AAIB investigation was taking through a letter to David Cameron in February. Ian O’Prey said: “What else can I do? I spoke to Nicola Sturgeon when I was there. I asked her: ‘Can you find anything out for me?’ So I have to go and meet her on the 29th of this month in Edinburgh.”

The couple’s upset is compounded by the speed at which the FAI into the bin lorry crash got under way. The crash happened on December 22 and the FAI started on July 22.

Mona O’Prey, 72, said: “I was surprised the bin lorry inquiry happened so fast. I don’t know anything about these things. But I said to him [husband Ian]: ‘There’s an FAI about that bin lorry and they hadn’t even thought about an FAI [for Clutha]’ and I thought that was a bit much.”

Ian, a construction worker, is also concerned about why it took three days to remove his son’s body. The crash happened on Friday, November 29, 2013 at about 10.20pm and his body was removed three days later.

He said: “My main point is the length of time they spent bringing the people out the building. I thought it was just totally amateurish … they didn’t even bring a crane. At the time I said: ‘Why has this helicopter not been suspended by a crane?’ They were saying it was dangerous, they can’t take it out.

“The helicopter became more important than the bodies.”

The family want to know exactly when Mark died.

“It’s been total shutdown. They’re not allowed to speak to us, they’re not allowed to talk about it. We don’t know.,” his father said.

“I’d love to have an FAI and ask why it took them so damn long to handle the operation.”

His wife said she feared an inquiry would never take place. She said: “I don’t think they’ll ever do it now. It’s just been so long. We were told we’d be able to read all these reports once they’d collated them all but this has never happened.”

A spokesman from the AAIB said they could not reveal the publication date. The spokesman said: “The Clutha investigation continues to ensure the AAIB are satisfied all evidence has been fully considered. The report is now being reviewed and will be published in due course.”

They said victims’ families would receive the final report first.

A Crown spokesman said: “It is essential [for the Crown] to have the AAIB’s findings before the parallel investigation by Police Scotland, working with the assistance of the Civil Aviation Authority and under direction of the Crown, can be fully progressed in order that a decision may be taken as to the form of any proceedings that will take place.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said the findings should be published “as soon as is possible”. He added: “It is important the AAIB report is published as soon as is possible, to allow the necessary follow up investigations to be undertaken.” Bond Air Services did not want to comment.

It’s been total shutdown. They’re not allowed to speak to us, they’re not allowed to talk about it. We don’t know

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