Son of Clutha Bar victim to get payout after court battle

A Police Scotland helicopter crash4r into the roof of the pub killing ten people. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
A Police Scotland helicopter crash4r into the roof of the pub killing ten people. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
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The son of a man killed when a police helicopter crashed into the Clutha pub in Glasgow nearly four years ago has won a damages claim.

John McGarrigle, 42, was accused by the helicopter owners’ legal team of “inventing” a relationship with his 57-year-old father, also called John.

He told a national newspaper that the claim left him feeling devastated.

Babcock, which owns the police helicopter operators Bond Air Services, has now paid out a five-figure sum.

Mr McGarrigle said: “It really hurt me what they were ­saying. Their lawyers tried to say they had evidence to prove me and my father never had a loving relationship, which couldn’t be any further from the truth.

“He raised me from the age of 11. I would have been with him the night he died but the only reason I wasn’t there was that I was in hospital visiting my partner.

“Their payment was their way of acknowledging that me and my dad had a loving relationship – and that was the big thing for me.”

He added: “There’s no joy about it. It wasn’t about the money, it was about what it symbolised. It doesn’t matter if it had been a seven-figure or eight-figure sum.”

Mr McGarrigle’s father, who was from Castlemilk in Glasgow, was among around 100 people in the city centre bar when the police helicopter crashed into the roof in November 2013. Ten people were killed.

Mr McGarrigle has also vowed to fight to ensure that a fatal accident inquiry into the tragedy is held.

“It’s a relief this is over because you can only fight one battle at a time,” he said. “My thoughts were, ‘Let’s settle one battle at a time’.

“Once I’ve got this out the way I can focus on the fatal accident inquiry. I’m going to go for the jugular with that.

“We need some sort of accountability, some sort of justice, some sort of closure. I’ve been through four years of hell.”

David Bell, an associate at legal firm Irwin Mitchell, ­represented Mr McGarrigle in the case.

He confirmed that Babcock’s lawyers had questioned the “nature and quality of the relationship” John had with his dad.

He said: “I know it was very upsetting for John that they suggested he wasn’t close to his father.

“Obviously he feels vindicated that it’s been accepted he did have a normal and close, loving relationship with his dad.”

Officials confirmed the case had been settled out of court on Tuesday at the Court of Session.

The crash also claimed the lives of Mark O’Prey, 44, Joe Cusker, 59, Gary Arthur, 48, Robert Jenkins, 61, Colin Gibson, 33, and Samuel McGhee, 56. Captain David Traill, 51, died at the controls of the Bond Eurocopter alongside police officers Tony Collins, 43, and Kirsty Nelis, 36.

Babcock has received more than 80 claims from people affected by the tragedy.

A Crown Office spokesman said: “The Air Accidents Investigation Branch report into the Clutha tragedy, published in 2015, raised a number of issues which require further investigation by Police Scotland under the direction of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

“That investigation is challenging and highly complex. “We will continue to keep the families advised of progress.””