Page last updated at 17:16 GMT, Monday, 25 January 2010

Tug widows damages bid to proceed

The widows of the victims of the Flying Phantom
The widows of the three men who died in the tragedy are seeking damages

Clydeport has lost a legal bid to delay a damages claim by three women who lost their husbands in the Flying Phantom tugboat tragedy.

The port operator wanted a year-long delay amid uncertainty over possible criminal proceedings.

But lawyers for the widows successfully argued the case should proceed as their families lost their main breadwinners.

The tugboat capsized in fog in December 2007 during a towing operation after a winch failed to release fast enough.

Frank Maguire, from Thompsons Solicitors, which represents the three widows, said: "We argued that the civil action is of critical importance as all three widows have lost the breadwinner of their family and their action should not be put into legal limbo because of uncertainty over possible criminal proceedings.

Family anguish

"The families still want a full public inquiry into the sinking of the Flying Phantom to get to the heart of the matter and establish what happened and why it happened.

"Instead of trying to delay proceedings Clydeport should be trying to resolve matters for the families."

Mr Maguire said delaying the legal proceedings any further "would have increased the families' anguish".

The Flying Phantom after it was raised
The Flying Phantom capsized in thick fog in December 2007

The Flying Phantom sank opposite Clydebank College in West Dunbartonshire on 19 December 2007.

The bodies of three crew - skipper Stephen Humphreys, 33, from Greenock, Eric Blackley, 57, from Gourock, and Robert Cameron, 65, from Houston in Renfrewshire, - were recovered in the days after it sank.

Another crewman, Brian Aitchison, 37, from Coldingham, was rescued from the water after he managed to escape from the tug's wheelhouse.

The women who lost their husbands in the tragedy launched their damages action last year saying they felt "bitterly angry" that safety recommendations had not been implemented by Clydeport in the wake of the tragedy.

Following the launch of the action, Clydeport said it "completely refuted" many of the claims that had been made.



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