Scotland politics

New fatal accident inquiry rules to include deaths abroad

Blair Jordan Image copyright other
Image caption Blair Jordan died after falling on an oil tanker off the coast of Japan in 2009

Changes have been made to the law to allow fatal accident inquiries to be held in cases where Scots die abroad.

The Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths (Scotland) Bill was passed unanimously at Holyrood.

The bill, which modernises the legislation around fatal accident inquiries, also increases the situations where they are mandatory.

Agreement has been reached with the UK government to allow FAIs into the deaths of Scottish soldiers overseas.

MSP Christian Allard said the changes would make sure the system is "effective, efficient and fair".

Campaigners for a change in the law included the family of Blair Jordan, who died in 2009 after a fall on an oil tanker in the South China Sea.

Despite six years of searching for answers, they have said they still do not know how and why he died.

About 50 to 60 FAIs are held each year in Scotland.

The hearings, which usually take place before a sheriff, are designed to examine exactly what caused the death and what measures could be put in place to prevent such fatalities in future.

Mr Allard said FAIs "play a vital role in ensuring that families understand the circumstances of their loved ones' death and that we learn from these tragic circumstances".

He said: "This bill will make important reforms to the system including increasing the situations where an inquiry will be mandatory and allowing discretionary FAIs into deaths abroad for the first time.

"Agreement has also been reached, in principle, between the Scottish and UK governments to allow FAIs into the deaths of service personnel in Scotland to be held in Scotland - this ground-breaking change has already been widely welcomed by campaigners."

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