Glasgow & West Scotland

Court told Clutha families will need charity cash for FAI

Helicopter crashed into The Clutha Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ten people were killed after the police helicopter crashed into The Clutha roof on 29 November 2013

Some of the families who will be represented at the inquiry into the Clutha helicopter tragedy are hoping charity will help fund them.

A hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court was told legal aid has been granted to relatives of three victims but they will have to contribute.

Ten people were killed in the crash on 29 November, 2013.

A fatal accident inquiry into their deaths will take place at Hampden Park and will start on 8 April.

Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull heard legal aid has been granted to the families of Mark O'Prey, Gary Arthur and Samuel McGhee.

The fiancée of pilot David Traill, Dr Lucy Thomas, is privately funding her representation.

But in all four cases the funds will not cover the full legal costs.

Image caption (Top: left to right) David Traill; Pc Kirsty Nelis; Pc Tony Collins; Gary Arthur; Samuel McGhee (Bottom: left to right) Colin Gibson; Robert Jenkins; Mark O'Prey; John McGarrigle; Joe Cusker

Mr Traill's colleagues PC Tony Collins and PC Kirsty Nelis were also killed in the crash.

John McGarrigle, Colin Gibson, Robert Jenkins and Joe Cusker died in the pub alongside Mr McGhee, Mr O'Prey and Mr Arthur

The court heard Ian O'Prey, Gordon Arthur and James Diver - Mr McGee's son - have been granted legal aid for the FAI into their deaths of their late fathers but they have to make a contribution.

Counsel for Mr Diver, Louise Arrol, said that it was hopeful that a charitable organisation will pay the first instalment and that preparation for the inquiry is underway.

She added that steps are being taken to raise money to pay the balance.

Image caption Floral tributes were left outside the Clutha to mark the anniversary

The legal aid board suspended the requirement for payment until the end of January to see if there will be any other funding.

It was said on behalf of Dr Thomas that she was funding her representation privately but "that will run out".

The inquiry heard her legal team have made inquiries with the legal aid board who say she cannot apply for funding "until private funding has run out".

Sheriff Principal Turnbull noted that there had been a suggestion that Dr Thomas might not be eligible for legal aid.

The inquiry was told her salary is "significant" but that the legal aid board can use their discretion.

The hearing was continued until the preliminary hearing next month.

Image caption Clutha owner Alan Crossan has pledged to help the families raise money for their legal costs

Clutha owner Alan Crossan later said the charity he set up after the disaster plans to help fund the families' legal costs.

Speaking after the preliminary hearing Mr Crossan said: "What we are trying to do is raise the £8,500 the families have to pay towards the legal aid costs.

"There's a gofundme that was set up just before Christmas.

"We are trying to raise the full amount before the end of the month and all money will go towards the bill."

Mr Crossan, who launched the Clutha Trust in the wake of the tragedy, also said he is in negotiations to set up a pop-up shop in Shawlands to boost funds.

He said: "A retail organisation is donating new furniture which we will sell at cut-down prices to raise the money.

"As soon as it's agreed and set up, we can advertise on social media."

Mr Crossan added that the cost of the inquiry would be expensive and added: "What's the benefit of taking £8,000 off people who can't afford it after all they've been through?"

Clutha timeline:

29 November 2013: Police helicopter crashes on Clutha bar in Glasgow killing 10 people.

9 December 2013: AAIB preliminary report finds there was 95 litres of fuel onboard the aircraft.

14 February 2014: AAIB special report finds both engines "flamed out". One of the fuel tanks was empty, while a second contained 0.4 litres. A third contained 75 litres, but transfer pumps to take this fuel to the other two engine tanks were switched off.

23 October 2015: AAIB final report finds main cause of accident to be mismanagement of the fuel system by the pilot.

24 November 2017: Fatal accident inquiry announced.

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