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Rennie: 5 year wait for M9 crash FAI "unforgivable"

July 5, 2020 10:00 AM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today marked half a decade since the tragic M9 crash in which John Yuill and Lamara Bell died, and criticised "glacial and agonising" delays which mean that a fatal accident inquiry has still not taken place into the crash and the police's failure to respond for 3 days.

It has been five years since the crash and four years since the then new Lord Advocate James Wolffe wrote to Willie Rennie to confirm, like his predecessor Frank Mulholland, that he was certain an FAI would take place.

Mr Rennie is calling for comprehensive reform of the FAI system to prevent more "unforgivable" delays and avoid more grieving families becoming "trapped" in a process that takes years to tell them what happened to loved ones.

A 2019 Scottish Liberal Democrat investigation found other outstanding inquiries still waiting up to 3,000 days.

Mr Rennie said:

"It is unforgivable that five years on from the M9 crash, the families and friends of Lamara and John are still waiting to find out what precisely happened. The wait has been glacial and agonising.

"It has been five years since the accident. It has been four years since the Lord Advocate told me it would be "inconcievable" not to hold an FAI "given the public concern over this tragedy". I warned then the wait was already too long. I am appalled.

"The Crown Office has shown itself incapable of handling FAIs. It has let down too many families and public can't have confidence in a system that routinely subjects people to these delays. It is therefore time to look at removing FAIs from its responsibilities. We need a comprehensive new system of checks and balances to drive the process forward.

"Two families waiting years for closure is a scandal, but the fact Scotland's broken FAI system routinely does this and worse to family after family is horrifying. It is adding to their torment.

"Years tick by without lessons being learned, potentially putting more lives at risk and undermining the value of the whole process. Recollections get vaguer.

"I've lost count of the number of times warnings and heartache have been met with promises of change. I'm sick of seeing more grieving families become trapped in this prolonged process."