Father of Glasgow Clutha crash victim misses out on legal aid

Police and Scottish Fire and Rescue services at the scene of a helicopter crash at the Clutha Bar in Glasgow in 2013. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Police and Scottish Fire and Rescue services at the scene of a helicopter crash at the Clutha Bar in Glasgow in 2013. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
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The father of one of the ten victims of the Clutha helicopter crash may not be represented at a fatal accident inquiry into the tragedy due to legal aid issues.

Seven people in the Glasgow pub, the pilot and two crew members were killed when the Police Scotland helicopter crashed on to the roof of the building on 29 November 2013.

The fatal accident inquiry (FAI) will start in April at Hampden Park in Glasgow.

READ MORE: Clutha helicopter disaster FAI to begin in April

At a preliminary hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court held to update the sheriff on legal aid applications, the inquiry heard the assistance has been granted to several family members who requested it.

But it heard while Ian O’Prey, the father of victim Mark O’Prey, has been granted legal aid, he had been unable to pay the contribution requested by the Legal Aid Board.

His lawyer Dana Forbes said: “The application for Mr O’Prey has been granted for junior counsel and the application for senior counsel may be reviewed.

“A contribution was due by 22 December, but Mr O’Prey was not able to make that.

“The Legal Aid Board extended it to the end of the month and there is something going on in the background regarding funding, but at the moment the contribution has not been paid by anyone.”

Sheriff Principal Craig Turnbull, who is overseeing the FAI, said later in today’s hearing: “Circumstances may preclude Mr O’Prey from participating.”

The inquiry heard James Diver, son of victim Samuel McGhee, has been granted legal aid with a contribution. A charity has paid the first contribution.

Brian Fitzpatrick, representing victim Gary Arthur’s father Gordon, said his application was under way and added: “I don’t anticipate that there will be any difficulty in the contribution being made and Mr Arthur being fully represented.”

John McGarrigle, the son of John McGarrigle, has also been granted legal aid.

More than 100 people were at the Clutha Vaults pub when the helicopter, returning to its base on the banks of the River Clyde, crashed through the roof.

Pub customers Mr McGarrigle, Mr O’Prey, Mr Arthur, Colin Gibson, Robert Jenkins, Mr McGhee and Joe Cusker died, while pilot David Traill and crew Pc Tony Collins and Pc Kirsty Nelis were also killed.

An Air Accidents Investigations Branch report published in 2015 found two fuel supply switches were off and the pilot did not follow emergency procedures after a fuel warning in the cockpit.

The Crown Office has previously stated there is insufficient evidence for criminal proceedings.

Family members, Police Scotland, Airbus Helicopters and the AAIB are among those represented at the inquiry.