South Scotland

Jim Clark Rally 'in jeopardy over Crown Office delay'

Jim Clark Rally Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A car crashed and hit spectators at a stage of the rally near Coldstream

The future of the Jim Clark Rally is in jeopardy because of delays over a Crown Office report into a crash at the event which killed three people, it has been claimed.

Iain Provan, 64, Elizabeth Allan, 63, and Len Stern, 71, died at a stage near Coldstream in 2014.

The event has not been held on closed public roads since then and was cancelled this year due to low entries.

The Crown Office has said it "will not compromise thoroughness for speed".

Rally organisers have said they are "descending into despair of ever running this world-famous event again".

Criminal charges

They claimed volunteers who helped at the rally have been left "living on their nerves for over two years" wondering whether they are going to be subject to criminal charges.

And they accused the Crown Office of failing to meet a reasonable timescale to investigate the incident.

They have now written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC and Holyrood's Justice Committee urging them to bring the matter to a conclusion.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Elizabeth Allan, Len Stern and Iain Provan died at the Jim Clark Rally in 2014

Event chairman Dan Wright said: "I believe the Crown Office has singularly failed to give the inquiry the priority it warrants, has failed to meet a reasonable timescale in coming to a conclusion concerning this incident, has failed to keep those affected informed, and consequently has not served the public as it should."

Mr Wright also claimed that "despite our requests to solicit information, Scottish ministers seem not to be prepared to scrutinise the Crown Office in its delivery of service".

Raising the issue with the first minister, he said: "This letter is not an attempt to influence the outcome of, or comment on, the circumstances of the incident. It is a plea to you to ask the Lord Advocate to come to a conclusion quickly so the organisers can attempt to rescue the event.

"We have now been waiting over two years and our team is descending into despair of ever running this world-famous event again."

'Public support'

He told Ms Sturgeon the rally had been one of the biggest events of its kind in the UK and had the "overwhelming support" of the public, local communities and businesses in the area.

"Scottish Borders Council (SBC) estimates it generates over £3m of its annual £21m tourist income and our development plans aim to raise this to around £7m over the next few years," Mr Wright said.

"We were well on track to take it forward as a major international event and showcase for Scotland.

"However, the current position of SBC is that it will not allow council officials to engage with us in planning until the Crown Office investigation is complete. Police Scotland also refuses to co-operate for the same reason."

A Crown Office spokesman said: "We will not compromise thoroughness for speed.

"A detailed and thorough investigation has been undertaken into these deaths, under the direction of the Crown's Health & Safety Division and the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit (SFIU).

"It would not be appropriate to comment publicly on the current state of the investigation without providing that information to bereaved family members first."

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