[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 March 2007, 16:26 GMT
Angler death probe to study signs
Perth Sheriff Court
The sheriff will issue written findings later at Perth Sheriff Court
A sheriff is to consider whether better warning signs could have helped save the life of an angler who was swept to his death near a power station.

A fatal accident inquiry in Perth heard how Gordon Robertson, 42, was swept off a rock in the middle of the River Tummel last July.

It happened when a nearby hydro station opened its gates to generate power.

A vast volume of water surged into the river, causing its level to rise by up to 5ft.

Mr Robertson, who had been on holiday with family and friends, had been fishing when the rock he had been standing on became completely submerged within a few minutes.

Several holidaymakers and maintenance staff waded into the water to try and rescue him but he was knocked off his feet before they could reach him.

The father-of-three was seen to go under the surface twice and was eventually found drowned further down river by a search and rescue crew.

It is just a question of whether these signs should be changed and whether it would have made a difference to this accident
Sheriff Michael Fletcher

The inquiry heard there were between five and nine warning signs along the bank of the river at Tummel Valley Holiday Park.

The signs warned of the water being dangerous and advised holidaymakers not to bathe in the Tummel.

However, the inquiry heard that the river had been "shallow" and "benign" when Mr Robertson, from Gorebridge, entered the water.

Sheriff Michael Fletcher said he would issue his findings in writing at a later date, but added that he would be looking at the signage issue.

"It is just a question of whether these signs should be changed and whether it would have made a difference to this accident," he told the inquiry.

"I see the danger, not from the fact there's a fast-flowing river, but from the fact the river changes its flow very rapidly."

He said he would consider whether the public should be warned about the specific nature of the river relating to the sudden surges from the hydro plant.

The critical evidence is that the fishing permit was not read
Solicitor for Parkdean

"The real danger is that it is fast-flowing only on occasions. If it was raining or snow melting you would expect the river to rise.

"But in this case it wasn't doing that and you would not have expected the river to rise."

Solicitor Alex Garioch, for Parkdean, the owners of the Perthshire park, said Mr Robertson and his friends should not have been fishing downstream of the power station.

He said they had failed to read the terms of the fishing permit they had bought and that was what had led to the accident.

"The critical evidence is that the permit was not read," he said. "The problem is the failure to read the permit.

"The onus is on the person purchasing the permit to satisfy himself where he is entitled to fish. The danger signs are still there for someone to take cognisance of."

Sheriff Fletcher will issue written findings later at Perth Sheriff Court.

Fisherman dies in river accident
17 Jul 06 |  Tayside and Central

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific