Page last updated at 12:35 GMT, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 13:35 UK

Factory death blast probe begins

Stockline factory

A public inquiry into a factory explosion in Glasgow which killed nine people and injured 33 has begun.

The premises, operated by ICL Plastics Ltd, collapsed on 11 May 2004 after liquefied petroleum gas escaped from old pipe work.

ICL Plastics and another firm, ICL Tech, were fined a total of 400,000 for breaching health and safety laws.

The inquiry, chaired by senior Scottish judge Lord Gill, will look into the facts and make recommendations.

It is being held in the Maryhill Community Hall, close to the site of the factory, and is expected to last 12 weeks.

Relatives of some of those killed in the blast, which became known as the Stockline explosion, said it was insensitive to stage it within yards of the place where their loved ones died.

I want to know what happened that day and be able to obtain closure for me, my colleagues and of course family
Sheena O'Brien
Daughter of victim

The inquiry has no power to determine civil or criminal liability, but Lord Gill, the Lord Justice Clerk, told BBC Scotland this would allow a "determined pursuit of the truth".

The community centre has been completely refurbished for the inquiry and every detail, including the timetable and transcripts of evidence, will be posted on the internet.

Separate rooms have been provided for bereaved families and survivors of the blast, to enable them to follow proceedings on TV screens.

Lord Gill said the inquiry would have a wide-ranging remit and that he was willing to hear from anyone who felt they had something relevant to say.

Lord Justice Clerk Lord Gill
Lord Gill, Scotland's second most senior judge, will chair the inquiry

"The inquiry can concern itself with a very determined pursuit of the truth about what happened and what led up to it," he said.

"I'm sure that's what the families, in particular, want to know."

And he defended the calling of the inquiry, adding: "It's not at all clear that everything came out at the prosecution and there's a very good reason for that.

"Prosecutors were concerned with certain statutory offences to which the companies pled guilty.

"Therefore all the prosecution was concerned with were the facts relating to the commission of those offences."

In Statements of Case submissions to the ICL inquiry, Sheena O'Brien, who was badly injured in the explosion and lost her father, wrote: "I want to know what happened that day and be able to obtain closure for me, my colleagues and of course family, through a fair inquiry."

Louise Smith, whose husband Tim was killed, told the inquiry team the void left in her family's lives was "indescribable".

She added: "Although nothing will return Tim to us, it is very important to us that lessons are learned and put into practice, that a constructive outcome is realised and the process is not simply a paper exercise."

The first phase of the inquiry is expected to last more than three weeks.

Scotland's senior law officer, Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini, said it was hoped that the inquiry would help prevent another tragedy like Stockline occurring.

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