MoD dodge prosecution over Kaylee McIntosh death

Kaylee McIntosh, who drowned on a training exercise
Kaylee McIntosh, who drowned on a training exercise
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THE PARENTS of a 14-year-old army cadet who drowned on a training exercise have hit out after the Ministry of Defence was censured over failings which led to her death.

• Kaylee McIntosh died on cadet training in Outer Hebrides in 2007

• HSE censures Army for role in McIntosh’s death

• Crown Immunity means no prosecution possible over 14-year-old’s death

Kaylee McIntosh, from Fyvie in Aberdeenshire, died after ­becoming trapped under a boat on Loch Carnan in the Outer Hebrides in 2007.

Major George McCallum was last year fined £5,000 for his failures in the exercise.

Sheriff William Taylor said he had been a “cog in a much larger wheel” and a fatal accident ­inquiry said there were organisational failings.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has now formally censured the MoD, in lieu of the army, for its part in the death of the teenager.

The concept of Crown immunity means the army will face no prosecution for the 14-year-old cadet’s tragic death in 2007. Kaylee’s parents, Derek and Lesley McIntosh, said: “We’ve been badly let down by a criminal justice system that we thought we could put our trust in.

“The army, which is also ­responsible for our daughter’s death, cannot be prosecuted for their failings as they are protected by Crown immunity.

“The Crown censure which the Health and Safety Executive has conducted is just window dressing. The army are effectively being given a slap on the wrist and told not to do it again. That’s not justice for Kaylee.

“We are not convinced that a similar accident couldn’t happen today. There were rules in place that ought to have prevented Kaylee’s death, so what’s the point of making more rules that individuals don’t bother to follow?

“Those in charge of children need to be competent, experienced and well trained, and our view is the only way this can be achieved is through independent regulation of cadet forces and the lifting of Crown immunity for such forces.”

Jayne Crawford, the family’s solicitor and associate at Thompsons Scotland, added: “Today has been another disappointment for Kaylee’s parents.

“It isn’t clear to Derek and ­Lesley McIntosh or us that there is any justification for the army having such immunity in the circumstances of this case. The fact the law does not draw a distinction between cadet forces arranging leisure activities involving children and those actively serving in the armed forces appears absurd.”

An HSE investigation found there were a series of serious failings on the trip by Major McCallum, who was the leader, compounded by systemic organisational failings.

General Sir Nick Parker ­attended the Crown censure meeting and accepted the findings on behalf of the MoD, ­formally acknowledging there were health and safety failures.

The MoD cannot face prosecution in the same way as non-government bodies. Crown censures are agreed procedures applicable to Crown employers, including the MoD, in lieu of criminal proceedings.

HSE’s director for Scotland and northern England, David Snowball, who chaired the censure said: “The various investigations into the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident revealed a number of organisational failings by the MoD.

“HSE’s investigation has confirmed that primary failings during the activity amplified a number of significant underlying organisational failures.

“In particular, there was evidence of poor planning, leadership and execution of the exercise, coupled with inadequate oversight, procurement, monitoring and training arrangements. These all contributed to the events that took place.”

A fatal accident inquiry found there was no roll call after the alarm was raised, and Kaylee was trapped beneath the boat for 90 minutes before she was recorded as missing. She was taking part in an annual cadet camp at South Uist.