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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 17:44 GMT
New moves over road death probes
Scene of car crash
Pressure is growing for new steps to investigate road deaths
Pressure is being put on ministers by MSPs to examine how to formally recognise that a death has occurred in all fatal car crashes.

Pat and Sandra Curran had submitted a petition to Holyrood after daughter Gillian, 24, was killed when her stationary car was hit from behind.

Mr and Mrs Curran were told no fatal accident inquiry (FAI) would be held.

But Public Petitions Committee convener Michael McMahon said he failed to understand the decision.

It was taken by Lord Advocate Colin Boyd and Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson, who both ruled out a court investigation.

The lord advocate said he was not persuaded that the Currans had made a case for change.

The family is asking for some way of recognising the fact that there was a victim in this accident
Michael MacMahon MSP
Petitions Committee

The minister said the purpose of an FAI was to determine factors such as the background to a death and any lessons arising from it.

She quoted evidence that inquests in England and Wales often gave little comfort to families and gave rise to expectations which could not be met.

But Mr McMahon said Ms Jamieson and Mr Boyd - Scotland's top prosecutor - had not responded properly to the concerns of the family, whose petition will now be looked at by the justice committee.

"They say FAIs don't always satisfy the people who are looking for an answer," he said.

"But at the same time the lord advocate has admitted there has never been an FAI."

Mr McMahon added: "The family is asking for some way of recognising the fact that there was a victim in this accident.

Gillian Curran
Gillian was 24 when she was killed

"If an FAI is not the way to do it then I think the justice department has to come up with some way of ensuring that there is recognition when someone dies in a car accident.

"I have not seen an answer yet from the lord advocate or the justice minister which says how we go about achieving the outcome this family is looking for."

The Curran family, who are supported by their MSP, called for mandatory fatal accident inquiries to be held in cases of careless driving where deaths occur.

Their daughter, from Coatbridge in North Lanarkshire, was killed when her stationary car was hit from behind by another driver two years ago.

The family said earlier this year: "We feel a fatal accident inquiry would help us understand why Gillian died and hopefully provide important lessons for the future to prevent it happening again."

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