Police investigation after climber dies during Ben Nevis rescue

Image caption,
Mr Phillips had been enjoying superb climbing conditions his wife said

Police are investigating after a climber died during an operation to rescue him on Ben Nevis.

Highland Council employee Mark Phillips, 51, had fallen about 50m (164ft) while climbing in the Raeburn's Buttress area on the north face of the mountain on Monday.

RAF and Royal Navy helicopters were called to the scene, along with Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team.

Police said a report would be sent to the procurator fiscal.

Newspaper reports suggested that Mr Phillips fell during the rescue operation.

A police spokesman said the incident, like all mountain accidents, was being investigated.

Northern Constabulary said it could not comment further because it was a live investigation.

Mr Phillips' wife, Caroline, said she had noted speculation surrounding his death.

In a statement, she said: "I have entire confidence in the police and the process and I do not want to indulge such speculation."

Paying tribute to her husband, Mrs Phillips said: "On 25 February, my beloved husband, Mark, was enjoying the superb conditions the Scottish Highlands were affording.

"He had spent the previous few days climbing and walking in the hills with friends. Tragically, that day he sustained fatal injuries following an incident on Ben Nevis.

"Mark and I, together with our son, Ruaridh, had moved to the Highlands about 12 years ago so as to live amongst the hills and community we had got to love."

Image caption,
The RAF helicopter landing near Fort William on the day of the incident

She added: "Mark was a loving father and husband and will be sorely missed by us and his many friends and work colleagues. Ruaridh and I thank them all for their support."

In a statement on Monday, the police force said the man died after sustaining fatal injuries.

The statement said: "Police received a call with information that a man had fallen around 50m in the Raeburn's Buttress area on the north face of Ben Nevis during a climb with another man.

"Rescue One Three Seven (RAF) and Rescue One Seven Seven (Royal Navy) assisted along with members of the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team.

"During the rescue operation the man sadly died."

The RAF said enquiries on the incident were being referred to Northern Constabulary.

Highland Council has paid tribute to Mr Phillips, who worked as an environmental health officer.

Lochaber provost Alan Henderson said staff and councillors' thoughts were with Mr Phillips' family.

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