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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 08:22 GMT 09:22 UK
Legal action over masonry death
Ryan's Bar
Ryan's Bar, where Miss Foster was fatally injured
The father of an Australian waitress killed three years ago by falling masonry in Edinburgh is to start legal proceedings seeking damages for her death.

Christine Foster, 26, was killed when stonework fell from roof level into a pavement cafe where she was working.

Papers are due to be lodged at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on behalf of Michael Foster, who lives in the Philippines.

Mr Foster is arguing that he should be recompensed for grief, distress and the loss of a close family member.

The money is irrelevant compared with the improvements in the legislation and regulations which I hope will result
Michael Foster
Mr Foster is calling for improved Scottish legislation on keeping buildings - particularly older properties - secure and safe.

He said: "The money is irrelevant compared with the improvements in the legislation and regulations which I hope will result."

Exactly who is being pursued has still to emerge, but legal experts believe it is likely to be Christine Foster's employers at the time of the incident, the then owners of the property and the contractors who carried out extensive renovations on it in the late 1980s.

However, it could take up to a year before the case gets to court.

Poor workmanship

Miss Foster, who was on a working holiday, was killed in June 2000 after being hit by a large piece of stone while working at Ryan's Bar in Edinburgh's city centre.

She was serving at outdoor tables when she was struck by the blocks.

A fatal accident inquiry concluded that poor workmanship during a conversion project on the building had contributed to the two-feet long coping stones falling from a third-storey roof.

After the inquiry, her family said it was planning to launch a civil action against the liquidated contractor, McLaren Building Group, which carried out the faulty work in 1988.

The sheriff's recommendations included a call for the city council to carry out an immediate audit of buildings that could pose a risk to public safety.

Nationwide issue

Robert Carr, the solicitor advocate representing Mr Foster, said the case was about calling to account those responsible for the building's repairs.

Mr Carr said its maintenance, inspection and safety were under scrutiny.

He said: "Michael Foster is determined to do what he can to prevent any tragedy like this happening to any other family."

Experts have argued that central Edinburgh is vulnerable to such incidents because of the high number of older premises.

But conservationists have insisted it is a nationwide issue and that more effective laws are needed to enforce better standards.

Michael Foster
"What I want is an explanation and a public apology to my family"

Nigel Robson reports
"Michael Foster is taking the issue to Scotland's highest civil court"

Death blamed on shoddy work
25 Feb 02  |  Scotland

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