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The Herald (Scotland): U-turn on Brent oil deaths inquiry

FROM OUR JULY 2005 SHELL NEWS ARCHIVE

The Herald (Scotland): U-turn on Brent oil deaths inquiry

“Keith Moncrieff and Sean McCue died when they were exposed to hydrocarbon gases on the Brent Bravo platform on September 11, 2003. At Stonehaven Sheriff Court in March, Shell, the oil company, admitted three safety breaches which led to their deaths.”

Posted Wednesday 20 July 2005

GRAEME SMITH

Scotland’s senior law officer has overturned a decision not to hold a fatal accident inquiry into the deaths of two men on an oil platform.

Keith Moncrieff and Sean McCue died when they were exposed to hydrocarbon gases on the Brent Bravo platform on September 11, 2003.

At Stonehaven Sheriff Court in March, Shell, the oil company, admitted three safety breaches which led to their deaths.

Sheriff Patrick Davies said the firm was responsible for a “substantial catalogue of errors” which led to the tragedy and imposed a record £900,000 fine. Last month, the procurator-fiscal announced there would be no fatal accident inquiry into the deaths, infuriating offshore unions.

They claimed that because of Shell’s decision to plead guilty, much of the evidence in the case had never been made public and that an FAI could help prevent a repeat of the tragedy.

Yesterday Colin Boyd QC, the lord advocate, said he had reviewed the decision whether there should be an FAI.

“Crown counsel’s original decision took into account the significant inquiry that had already been made in the course of investigations leading to the successful prosecution of the employer at Stonehaven Sheriff Court in March 2005,” the Scottish Executive said in a statement.

“While fully understanding that approach, the lord advocate has concluded, on personal consideration of the case, that it is in the wider public interest for a fatal accident inquiry to be held.”

The news was welcomed by the OILC offshore union which had campaigned for an inquiry. “We appreciate that the staging of this inquiry will be an extremely difficult time for the families of Sean McCue and Keith Moncrieff,” said Jake Molloy, the union’s general secretary. “However, we hope it will bring final closure for them whilst answering the many questions that still surround the tragic events.”

He said there would be an article in the union’s publication, Blowout, which is scheduled for distribution this week, entitled A Million Reasons for an Inquiry. “This article sets out just some of the reasons why an inquiry should be held. In the article we suggest it would be appropriate so as to gauge how far the industry has improved since the last major inquiry, that of Lord Cullen. “Coming a few days after the announcement Lord Cullen was retiring, the news this inquiry is to be staged appears all the more appropriate.”

RELATED

The Scotsman: Families welcome inquiry into North Sea gas leak: “Mr Moncrieff, 45, a mechanical technician, and Mr McCue, 22, a trainee operations technician, died when they were engulfed in a gas escape inside the platform’s utility leg. Last April, at Stonehaven Sheriff Court, Shell was fined a record £900,000 for safety failings on the platform.”: Posted Wednesday 20 July 2005: Read the article

BBC NEWS: Law chief orders rig deaths probe: “  The Lord Advocate said it would be in the “wider public interest” for an inquiry into the deaths of Keith Moncrieff and Sean McCue. They were killed on Shell’s Brent Bravo platform in the North Sea in September 2003. Shell was later fined £900,000.”: “Shell admitted a series of health and safety breaches and was fined a record amount on a company following a North Sea accident.”: Posted Wednesday 20 July 2005: Read the article

Daily Record (Scotland): OIL RIG DEATHS PROBE U-TURN: “In April, Shell were fined a record £900,000 after admitting blunders leading to the deaths of Mr Moncrieff, of Invergowrie, Dundee, and Mr McCue, of Kennoway, Fife.”: Posted Wednesday 20 July 2005: Read the article

Grampian TV (Scotland): FAI to be held into oil platform deaths: “Earlier this year Shell was fined a record nine hundred thousand pounds after admitting health and safety breaches. The Sheriff who heard the case said there had been a “substantial catalogue” of errors.”: Posted Wednesday 20 July 2005: Read the article

Glasgow Evening News: Inquiry into rig workers’ deaths: “After the tragedy, operators Shell revised safety procedures and maintenance issues, admitting there were shortcomings.”: Posted 20 July 2005: Read the article

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