Rally organisers criticise spectator death probe delay

Fatal accident at the Jim Clark Memorial Rally near Coldstream. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Fatal accident at the Jim Clark Memorial Rally near Coldstream. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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The organisers of a motor rally where three people were killed have accused prosecutors of dragging their heels over an investigation into the incident.

Three spectators died at the Jim Clark Motor Rally in 2014 after a car left the course at Coldstream in the Borders.

Organisers have now accused the Crown Office of failing to give the investigation the priority it deserves, saying volunteers are “living on their nerves” about whether they might face prosecution.

Dan Wright, the event’s chairman, said the lord advocate had not yet acknowledged a letter from him sent on 6 September.

He said: “We have never tried to influence the outcome of the lord advocate’s inquiries but have consistently urged him to come to a conclusion. We believe the Crown Office is still awaiting Crown counsel’s ‘opinion’ concerning the accident and now believe this may be in his hands within the next two or three months.

“The consequences of the delay are that the future of the event is at risk and volunteers are still living on their nerves, not knowing whether they might be subject to prosecution.”

He added: “I believe the Crown Office has singularly failed to give the inquiry the priority it warrants and has failed to meet a reasonable timescale in coming to a conclusion concerning this incident; has failed to keep those affected informed and consequently has not served the public as it should.”

Iain Provan, 64, Elizabeth Allan, 63, and Len Stern, 71, died during the event, which organisers say generates over £3 million of the £21m earned each year in tourist income by Scottish Borders Council.

This year’s event, which was due to run on a different course from that used in 2014, had to be cancelled due to “insufficient entries”.

In a letter to the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee,Mr Wright said Scottish prosecutors had spent more time investigating the incident than the Dutch team which investigated the downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane in Ukraine in 2014.

A Crown Office spokesman said: “We will not compromise thoroughness for speed. A detailed and thorough investigation has been undertaken into these deaths under the direction of the Crown’s Health & Safety Division and the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit. It would not be appropriate to comment publicly on the current state of the investigation without providing that information to bereaved family members.”