Minister apologises after police admit failings over fatal M9 crash

Keith Brown apologised in parliamentKeith Brown apologised in parliament
Keith Brown apologised in parliament
A Scottish Government minister has apologised following the deaths of two people in the M9 crash of 2015, which police failed to respond to for three days.

Justice Secretary Keith Brown said he was “deeply sorry” to the families of those who had died.

Earlier this week, Police Scotland was fined £100,000 after admitting failings which “materially contributed” to the death of one of the victims.

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John Yuill, 28, was pronounced dead at the scene on July 8, 2015, and his partner, Lamara Bell, 25, died four days later in hospital.

Their car came off the motorway near Stirling and plunged down an embankment on July 5 that year.

Despite a call being made to report the crashed vehicle, officers did not arrive at the scene until three days later.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard on Tuesday that medical experts believed Lamara Bell could have survived with faster treatment.

In a statement in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Mr Brown said the Lord Advocate had begun work to initiate a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) into the deaths.

He said: “I want to start by offering my condolences to the families of John Yuill and Lamara Bell.

“The Chief Constable unreservedly apologised to John and Lamara’s families yesterday.

“And as the then Justice Secretary did at the time I want to apologise to the families for this tragic loss.

“I am deeply sorry.”

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Mr Brown referred to a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary which was made in the wake of the tragedy.

He said all 30 of the report’s recommendations had been acted on, while inspectors had continued to engage with the police command and control division.

The Justice Secretary reaffirmed his support for the reorganisation of Scotland’s regional police forces into Police Scotland.

Scottish Conservative MSP, Jamie Greene, said: “The deaths of the Lamara Bell and John Yuill are an utter tragedy, there really are no other words for it, but this is a tragedy which should not have happened.

“It is clear that the centralisation of Police Scotland, and specifically its call handling practices, undoubtedly led to a period of funding concerns, IT problems and operational failures which ultimately cost the lives of two innocent people.”