South Scotland

Joint inquiry into Jim Clark and Snowman Rally deaths

Rally crash scene Image copyright PA
Image caption The joint inquiry will be the first of its kind

A joint fatal accident inquiry is to be held into the deaths of four people at the Snowman Rally in Inverness and Jim Clark Rally near Coldstream.

The Crown Office said new legislation would allow it to hold such a hearing for the first time.

The fatal accident inquiry will be held in the Lothian and Borders sheriffdom.

It will consider the deaths of Joy Robson at the Snowman Rally in 2013 and Iain Provan, Elizabeth Allan and Len Stern at the Jim Clark Rally in 2014.

A statement said the inquiry would examine the full circumstances surrounding the deaths and "help to avoid such incidents happening in the future".

Image copyright Other
Image caption Elizabeth Allan, Len Stern and Iain Provan died at the Jim Clark Rally in 2014, while Joy Robson, right, died at the Snowman Rally in 2013

The decision follows a change in legislation to allow for a single fatal accident inquiry to be held in relation to deaths in different parts of Scotland.

The Crown Office said the two events held "similar questions in relation to spectator safety at rallies" and added that the Lord Advocate considered that it was in the public interest that the issues be explored together.

It is working to identify an appropriate location and dates for the inquiry.

The Crown Office also confirmed there would be no criminal proceedings in relation to either event, though that "may be reconsidered should additional evidence come to light".

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP John Lamont said he hoped the move could pave the way for the Jim Clark Rally to be held once more.

The event has not been staged on closed public roads since the accident, and was cancelled this year due to low entries.

'Awful events'

"I hope the fatal accident inquiry can be carried out as quickly as possible and that Scottish Borders Council, the police and the Crown Office will do all they can to facilitate the holding of the rally as soon as possible," said Mr Lamont.

"The Snowman Rally, which will also be considered by the FAI, has been allowed to continue and I hope the same flexibility can be applied to the Borders."

Organisers of the Jim Clark Rally and the Snowman Rally have declined to comment on the decision at this time.

However, Andrew Henderson, a partner with Thompsons Solicitors who represent the family of Ms Robson, said: "This announcement by the Crown Office has been welcomed by Joy's family who always felt that only a fatal accident inquiry could provide them with the answers about events that led to their mother's death.

"They were also greatly concerned that, unless lessons were learned through the FAI process, more families could be affected by tragic accidents at motorsport rallies.

"Sadly they were proved to be correct as the awful events at the Jim Clark Rally in 2014 have shown."

Mr Henderson said the family had always been motivated by the belief that rallying in Scotland could be made "safer for everyone" and the Crown Office decision to hold an inquiry was "a very important part of that process".

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