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Wednesday, 8 November, 2000, 15:33 GMT
Relief for Derbyshire relatives
The families of those who died on the Derbyshire
Relatives have battled to clear the names of loved ones
Relatives of those who died on the MV Derbyshire have welcomed the second inquiry into the fate of the bulk carrier, which clears their loved ones of blame for the disaster.

The new investigation refutes the findings of an earlier inquiry which blamed the sinking in 1980 on hatch covers being badly-secured by crew.

The new inquiry said that the covers were inadequate and called for new design standards.

We have finally got answers after 20 years

Anne Dowling, Derbyshire Family Association
Margaret Noblett, whose husband James was one of the 44 victims of the Derbyshire tragedy, said the findings vindicated the crew.

"My husband had been at sea since he was 15, he knew what he was doing," said the mother-of-four.

"All the crew knew what they were doing, and now they and the captain have been exonerated.

"I hope this inquiry will save lives. Every month a bulk carrier disappears. There is obviously something wrong with the way they are built."

Speaking of the need for the inquiry Mrs Noblett, from Preston, Lancashire, said the families had deserved to know the truth.

"You are entitled to know why when a man of 41 goes out and leaves a wife and children and never comes back," she said.


Anne Dowling, from Cornwall, whose father Ali Bujang died on the Derbyshire, said: "I am still in shock. We have finally got answers after 20 years."

Her husband John said: "We have got as close to the truth as we could possibly get. I am glad recommendations were made for the improvement of ship safety."

Paul Lambert, chairman of the Derbyshire Family Association, the battle for justice had been long and hard.

"A lot of families have suffered a lot of illness through stress and through the pressure," he said.

"You are forced to relive the Derbyshire sinking all the time."

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said he welcomed and endorsed the report and hoped it would finally provide the answers to the many questions surrounding the sinking.


He applauded the "fortitude" of those relatives and friends for whom the demands of the investigation would have been difficult.

"Though nothing can compensate them for their loss, I trust that this will provide some comfort to the relatives and friends of the 44 people who so tragically lost their lives with the ship," he said.

He went on to refer to the judge's conclusion that the exposure to risk of bulk carriers whose hatch covers do no more than comply with the International Load Line Convention of 1966 posed an unacceptable risk to safety.

He said the UK would press "strongly and urgently" for the convention to be amended by the introduction of a formula for the calculation of minimum hatch cover strength in relation to minimum permissible freeboard.

"The UK will press for any such amendments to be applied not only to new bulk carriers but also to existing ones," he said.

"We will report to Parliament in due course on the way forward with these and Mr Justice Colman's other recommendations."

Liberal Democrat transport spokesman, Don Foster, said: "This verdict is one of the most important judgements on maritime safety in recent years.

"There are important lessons about safe shipbuilding as well as belatedly restoring the reputation of the crew who died.

"Relatives of the crew have waited over 20 years for proof that the crew were not to blame. At long last they have it."

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