Bid to reopen mineshaft death inquiry after new evidence submitted

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AN INQUIRY into the death of a lawyer who fell down a mineshaft may be reopened, after new evidence was uncovered.

Alison Hume, 44, suffered serious injuries, including a broken jaw, chest injuries and pneumonia. She died from a heart attack as she was finally lifted from the shaft by rescue services.

Yesterday a Crown Office spokeswoman said: "We have considered new information which has been submitted and have made an application to the sheriff to reopen the inquiry. The family of Alison Hume have been advised of developments."

The tragedy occurred in July 2008 when Hume was on her way home from a night out with friends in Galston in Ayrshire.

She took a short-cut across fields near her house, but fell into the disused mineshaft and plunged 60ft to the bottom. She was found later by her teenage daughter.

Controversy has surrounded reports of the rescue attempt, which had been apparently hindered by health and safety regulations. Alexander Dunn, 51, of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, who was lowered into the shaft and who spent five hours with Alison, has stated that the time it took to pull her out was "excessive".

Although the fire brigade had the necessary equipment to carry out a rescue, it had been ordered not to do so by a senior fire officer as the equipment was not to be used for saving members of the public.

Senior MSP Murdo Fraser has criticised the regulations imposed upon rescue services. He said: "A strict adherence to health and safety rules in such circumstances should not prevent life-saving action."

During the original fatal accident inquiry into Hume's death, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Group Commander Paul Stewart furthered angered her family. During questioning, he stated that he considered the operation a "success" as, due to the efforts of the rescue teams, both the casualty and a firefighter were recovered from the shaft.

He also regretted that he had not been able to prevent the voluntary descent of one of his men into the shaft as he had not arrived at the scene early enough.

Jayne Hume, who found her mother, has spoken of her grief and her disbelief of the events of the night. She said: "They left my mother down there in a dark, wet hole for six hours and I can never forgive them for that. I know she would still be here if they had done their jobs properly that night."

Hume was finally removed from the shaft by mountain rescue experts, who arrived several hours after Strathclyde Fire and Rescue.