Police Scotland release hoax mayday call which launched search

A recording of the hoax call that led to a major air and sea search has been released by police.

Officers took the “relatively unusual” step as they aim to track down the person responsible for what they believe to be a false emergency call-out earlier this month.

The coastguard received a mayday call at around 5.50pm on Monday June 18, reporting that three people were having to abandon their boat in the Moray Firth.

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An extensive search was launched, involving three RNLI crews, a coastguard rescue team and helicopter, as well as local fishing boats who offered to help.

Nothing was found during the five-hour operation in rough weather conditions.

Police believe the call was made from the Banff and Macduff area of Aberdeenshire.

In the short audio clip, the caller says “mayday” three times and claims that the trio on board was having to “abandon ship”.

Inspector Megan Heathershaw said: “Any distress call made to the emergency services will be taken seriously and these calls have led to the intensive use of time and resources by the coastguard and other emergency services.

“We have taken the relatively unusual step of releasing a copy of this call to the public and appeal for help in identifying the person responsible.

“I would ask for anyone who recognises the voice on the transmission to please contact us as soon as possible.

“Likewise I would also appeal to this person directly to get in touch with us.”

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Police have joined the coastguard in issuing a stern warning about the serious consequences of illegally making false emergency calls.

Ms Heathershaw continued: “Any report of a hoax call to the emergency services will be thoroughly investigated.

“Every false or inappropriate call takes up the time of the emergency services and may prevent someone who genuinely needs help from getting it.

“It can also place the safety of the people in the emergency services at risk, and in this case caused unnecessary search and rescue activity at sea.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101.