A refusal by the Scottish Government to commit to speeding up the fatal accident inquiry (FAI) system was greeted with dismay yesterday.
At Holyrood, MSPs increased the pressure on ministers to overhaul the system in the wake of the helicopter crash off Shetland which claimed the lives of four offshore workers last month.
Trade unions are urging SNP ministers to support a member’s bill from Glasgow MSP Patricia Ferguson which she hopes will improve the investigation of sudden and accidental deaths, and put families at the heart of the process.
She and campaigners in the north-east are concerned that the FAI into the 2009 Super Puma helicopter crash, which left 16 people dead, will not be held until early next year.
During a debate on the issue at the Scottish Parliament yesterday, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “I understand that the consultation finishes on November 22 and the Scottish Government will consider the final proposals when they are available.”
Afterwards Vic Fraser, an offshore representative with the Unite union, said: “I was actually disappointed given the level of support there appeared to be in the chamber for the motion.
“He did not seem fully committed to supporting the motion.”
The debate was brought by North-east Labour MSP Richard Baker, who said he would have liked a firm response from Mr Ewing towards Ms Ferguson’s bill.
“I was disappointed ultimately that there was not a stronger commitment from the minister to positively engage with Patricia Ferguson on her proposals,” he said.
“There were other things the minister said I agreed with but on that, the key issue, the Scottish Government needs to go further.”
During the debate Mr Ewing defended the four-year gap between the 2009 crash and the FAI to be held in Aberdeen.
He said Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has made available the investigation timeline and Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland would publish it on the Crown Office website.
“It is essential that complex investigations are pursued in a methodical way and are not rushed but are comprehensive and detailed,” he said.
“There have been over 600 witness statements taken and 2,000 documents gathered.”