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Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 18:04 GMT
Masonry death father's heartbreak
Michael Foster outside Ryan's Bar
Michael Foster visits the spot where his daughter died
The father of the Australian waitress killed when masonry fell onto a city centre bar has told an inquiry of his heartache at losing his "best friend".

Michael Foster, 59, said he had been "absolutely flabbergasted" on hearing that the 26-year-old had died after being struck by stone slabs falling from the roof of an Edinburgh bar in June 2000.

Christine Foster suffered serious head injuries when 2ft coping stones fell from a third-storey roof above Ryan's Bar in the city's west end, where she was serving drinks.

Speaking outside a fatal accident inquiry at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, her father called on the government to lay down tougher regulations to help ensure safer construction in Scotland.

Christine Foster
Christine Foster was working as a waitress
Mr Foster, who travelled from his home in the Philippines to represent himself at the inquiry, called for urgent measures to be taken to prevent a similar tragedy.

He said: "Personally I think there should be a register of suitably qualified construction professionals who can only be used in repairs if they are properly accredited.

"Other countries have stringent accreditation programmes and I am appalled that there is not one here. There does not appear to be any record of performance, qualifications or experience."

In evidence, Mr Foster produced an enlarged aerial photograph from the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments for Scotland.

He said the photograph of buildings around Princes Street in the west end of Edinburgh - taken 14 months before his daughter's death - revealed gaps along the faulty gable end of the roof above Ryan's Bar.

Council cutbacks

The inquiry has previously heard work undertaken on the roof during renovation of the Georgian building in 1989 above the bar was "defective".

A council building expert told the inquiry the 13 coping stones on the gable end had not been adequately bonded with mortar.

The inquiry was also told a safety team responsible for inspecting an estimated 5,000 crumbling Georgian buildings in the Scottish capital had been scrapped three years before the accident because of council cutbacks.

Outside the courtroom, after the conclusion of evidence on the eighth day of the inquiry, Mr Foster said his daughter was a "very intelligent person".

'Loving Scotland'

"She confided in me a lot because we used to swap confidences that I'm sure nobody ever heard."

The retired geologist continued: "She was very good at her job and very good at anything she put her hand to. She, in my opinion, was my best friend."

He also told of his pride when Christine, a gifted mining engineer, was the only female student to graduate in engineering from Curtin University, in her native Kalgoorlie.

Mr Foster, who grew up in Newington, south Edinburgh, and emigrated to Tasmania with his parents at 13, said: "I heard from her in June just before the accident happened.

"She said she was loving Scotland and having the time of her life."

See also:

25 Jan 02 | Scotland
Building work was 'shoddy'
21 Jan 02 | Scotland
Inquiry told of 'crashing' stone
29 Jun 00 | Scotland
Waitress killed by falling masonry
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