South Scotland

Jim Clark Rally 'will not take place' in 2017

Rally crash scene Image copyright PA
Image caption Three people died at the Jim Clark Rally in 2014

The Jim Clark Rally planned for 2017 has been cancelled after the sport's UK governing body refused a permit.

The Motor Sports Authority (MSA) told organisers it would be inappropriate to hold the event until after an inquiry is held into recent fatalities.

Three spectators died at the Jim Clark Rally, near Coldstream, in 2014 and a woman was fatally injured at the 2013 Snowman Rally in the Highlands.

Organisers said the decision threatened the event's future.

Iain Provan, 64, his partner Elizabeth Allan, 63, and Len Stern, 71, were killed when a car involved in the Jim Clark Rally spun off the course in May 2014.

It had been an annual event dating back to 1970 to celebrate world champion Jim Clark, but it has not been held since the deaths.

The Crown Office announced in December that a joint fatal accident inquiry would consider their deaths, along with that of Joy Robson, 50, who was struck by a car taking part in the Snowman Rally in Inverness in February 2013.

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

Dan Wright, chairman of the Jim Clark Rally, said he received an email from the MSA which said "it would not be appropriate for MSA to issue a permit for the rally until the FAI has been completed and the sheriff has issued his findings".

Organisers said they were "at a loss" to understand the reasoning and said measures had been put in place to improve spectator facilities at all rally events.

Mr Wright said: "In any other workplace or sporting endeavour, routine carries on while FAIs are under way, so we don't understand the insurer's reasoning behind this decision.

"They may well have consulted extensively with their insurance partners, but the rally organisers were not consulted."

Rally manager Russel Blood said: "We understand that the inquest process under English law differs from fatal accident inquiries under Scots law, so to take this decision without wider consultation is not what should be expected from a sport's UK national governing body.

"This outcome has thoroughly demoralised the whole team behind the running of this major motor sports event."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A car hit spectators who were watching a stage of the Jim Clark Rally near Coldstream

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP John Lamont said more needed to be done to safeguard the rally's future.

"The Jim Clark Rally has been a major contributor to the Borders economy and the loss of the event for yet another year is a big blow to the organisers, local businesses and motor sports enthusiasts," he said.

"With the MSA now saying the rally can't take place while the fatal accident inquiry is ongoing, there is a real risk the event will be lost forever."

He said it needed to be made clear there were "no legal reasons" why the rally could not take place and an effort made to change the MSA's decision.

The rally was not held the year after the deaths and was cancelled last year due to low entries but organisers hope it can be held in 2018.

The FAI will be the first time that one inquiry has been held into deaths which occurred in different parts of Scotland, but Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC considered it in the public interest for a single inquiry to be held as both incidents involved spectators at rallies.

The Crown Office has also confirmed no criminal proceedings will be brought in relation to either event - although this could be reconsidered if additional evidence comes to light.

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