I would be grateful if you could provide the following information:
Apart from the factual evidence revealed by your underwater surveys on the Scottish trawler Trident's wreck in 2001, what additional information did the MAIB seek out and examine prior to advising the Secretary of State for Transport that new and important evidence had been found and recommending that the Formal Investigation into her loss be re-opened.
Please advise whether:
1. MAIB had unrestricted access to all of the official files from the original 1975 formal investigation - files which contained the evidence that was presented at the 1975 investigation, including transcripts of evidence, and the court's final report and whether this evidence was examined by MAIB (please advise the DOT file reference numbers of all files examined).
2. MAIB had unrestricted access to all of the DOT (now MCA) files that have been opened on the Trident (before and after her loss) i.e. construction, stability, life saving appliances, fire safety, tonnage, general correspondence etc and whether this evidence was examined by MAIB (please advise the DOT file reference numbers of all files examined).
3. MAIB had unrestricted access to all of the DOT (now MCA) files that were opened on the Trident relating to the NMI model tank tests (stability and sea-keeping tests by A. Morrall of the National Maritime Institute in 1975/6) and whether this evidence was examined by MAIB (please advise DOT file reference numbers of all files examined).
4. MAIB had unrestricted access to all of the DOT (now MCA) files that were opened on the Silver Lining (sister to Trident) i.e. construction, stability, life saving appliances, fire safety, tonnage, general correspondence etc and whether this evidence was examined by MAIB in conjunction with their inspection on Celestial Dawn (Silver Lining) in Spain in 2002 (please advise DOT file reference numbers of all files examined).
5. MAIB was able to identify any other relevant sources of evidence and, if so, kindly provide details.
6. MAIB produced a report on their findings to accompany their recommendation to the Secretary of State and provide me with a copy thereof.
I would also be grateful if you could advise whether MAIB performed any further services to the DfT or the OSAG in the run up to the re-opened formal investigation (i.e. did MAIB merely catalogue the evidence they collected or was it assessed and prioritised in a technical sense) and provide details.
Dear Mrs Drysdale
Re: F0007118 - Freedom of Information request concerning the re-opening of
the Trident Formal Investigation
I refer to your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
regarding the Marine Accident Investigation Branches (MAIB) involvement in
the re-opening of the Trident Formal Investigation.
With regard to elements 1-4 of your request, which require lists of all
file reference numbers of files examined by the MAIB at various stages of
the original investigation and in relation to other aspects of the
investigation, including the Trident's sister vessel Silver Lining,
regrettably the MAIB does not hold this information. However, I have
liaised with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and can confirm that
following a search of their electronic registry system (which dates back
to 1998); there is no interchange of files between the MAIB and MCA.
Prior to 1998, a paper registry system was in place and records dating
back to 1995 were fed into the current electronic system, which also
confirm that no interchange of files between the MAIB and MCA took place.
Records pre-dating 1995 are no longer in existence.
With regard to questions 5 & 6 of your request, I can advise that evidence
collected in the course of an MAIB investigation is prohibited from
disclosure (except where it is used in any final, publicly available
report), along with any reports made other than a final published
investigation report, under S12 of the Merchant Shipping (Accident
Reporting & Investigation) Regulations 2005 which states:
S12 (1)Subject to the following paragraphs, the names, addresses or any
other details of anyone who has given evidence to an inspector shall not
(2) The following documents or records shall not be made available for
purposes other than the investigation, unless a Court orders otherwise -
(a) subject to paragraph (3), all declarations or statements taken from
persons by an inspector or supplied to him in the course of his
investigation, together with any notes or voice recordings of interviews;
(b) medical or confidential information regarding persons involved in an
(c) any report made under regulation 6(4) or (5);
(d) copies of the report other than the final report except as mentioned
in regulation 13(3)(a), (4), or (8).
(3) A person who has given a declaration or statement to an inspector in
the course of an investigation may make available a copy of his
declaration or to another person as he sees fit.
(4) Any independent technical analysis commissioned by the Chief Inspector
and opinions expressed in such analysis may be made publicly available if
he considers it appropriate to do so.
(5) Subject to paragraph (6), no order shall be made under paragraph (2)
unless the Court is satisfied, having regard to the views of the Chief
Inspector, that the interests of justice in disclosure outweigh any
prejudice, or likely prejudice, to-
(a) the investigation into the accident to which the document or record
(b) any future accident investigation undertaken in the United Kingdom,
(c) relations between the United Kingdom and any other State, or
(6) `The provisions of this regulation shall be without prejudice to any
rule of law which authorises or requires the withholding of any document
or record or part thereof on the ground that disclosure of it would be
injurious to the public interest.
(7) Copies of information obtained from a voyage data recorder or from
other recording systems, pertinent to the accident, including voice
recordings (other than any recordings mentioned in paragraph (2)(a)),
video recordings and other electronic or magnetic recordings and any
transcripts made from such information or recordings, may be provided at
the discretion of the Chief Inspector to the police or other official
As such, the documents you have requesting are covered by the exemption
set out in S44 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (which is an
absolute exemption) states that:
(1) Information is exempt information if its disclosure (otherwise than
under this Act) by the public authority holding it--
(a) is prohibited by or under any enactment,
(b) is incompatible with any Community obligation, or
(c) would constitute or be punishable as a contempt of court.
(2) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if the confirmation or
denial that would have to be given to comply with section 1(1)(a) would
(apart from this Act) fall within any of paragraphs (a) to (c) of
If you are unhappy with the way the MAIB has handled your request or with
the decisions made in relation to your request you may complain within two
calendar months of the date of this letter by writing to the Department's
Information Rights Unit at:
Sedlescombe Road North
East Sussex TN37 7GA
E-mail: [email address]
Please see attached details of DfT's complaints procedure and your right
to complain to the Information Commissioner.
If you have any queries about this email, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.
MAIB Freedom of Information Officer
Dear Marine Accident Investigation Branch,
Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.
I am writing to request an internal review of Marine Accident Investigation Branch's handling of my FOI request 'FV Trident - Information on MAIB's collection/assessment of evidence for the re-opened formal investigation into her loss'.
Thank you for your reply dated 7 December 2010, in response to my request for information on the MAIB’s involvement in the Trident RFI.
I have now read through your letter a number of times and realise that you did not provide any pertinent information to the questions that I had asked.
The information I seek relates to how a public body (the MAIB) has conducted itself during the course of this public inquiry (the Trident RFI) and my questions only concern the role of the MAIB in evidence gathering prior to opening the formal investigation in 2002 and not the substance of the evidence itself.
Your letter gives the impression that the MAIB did not play any technical role (or keep records of its role) in the run up to the formal investigation and goes on to suggest that, even if it had played such a role, this should remain an official secret.
A public inquiry by definition is an investigative process that is carried out in public rather than behind closed doors (which is the usual case for an MAIB casualty investigation). I would like to think that the MAIB is accountable as a public body and that its actions when it contributes to a public inquiry should also be capable of public scrutiny
Apart from the general question that is raised in the first main paragraph of my letter (which was ignored) I think that if we go through your response to my 6 subsequent queries we may be able to see where our differences lie:
In response to my questions 1-4 you have advised that the MAIB does not hold any lists of files that were examined by MAIB and also that there are no MCA records of file interchanges MCA/MAIB (for Trident and Silver Lining)
Whereas in paragraph numbers 1 to 4 in my letter, I did not ask for any file lists or for details of file movements that may inadvertently been recorded on the MCA’s file tracking system. The generic questions I raised (the same questions were asked under each paragraph number) were as follows:
- Did MAIB have unrestricted access to DOT/ MCA files
- Were the subject files actually examined by the MAIB
- What were the file reference numbers of those that were examined
Simple yes/no/not applicable answers would have sufficed together with a file number where appropriate.
In response to my questions 5 and 6 you quote the prohibition detailed in S12 of the Accident Reporting and Investigations Regulations 2005 together with the exemption detailed in S44 of the FOI act as a justification for not responding to my queries.
I think that you have applied the rules inappropriately here, as I am not looking to gain access to restricted documents or evidence, witness statements or the personal details of any persons making such statements.
In paragraph 5, I asked whether the MAIB was able to identify any other relevant sources of evidence – this again required a simple yes or no answer. As to details – if evidence had been found (say) in the National Archives, BMT archives or a similar location or was given in confidence, then mentioning such sources would obviously not be a contravention of the Regulations.
In paragraph 6, I asked whether the MAIB had produced a report for the Secretary of State for Transport - this again required a simple yes or no answer. The fact that a report may or may not have been produced at that time is not a state secret. The question of whether a copy of such report could also be made public would, obviously, depend on whether the Secretary of State considered it suitable for public release. (In the Gaul case, the MAIB’s report no 4/99 was placed in the public domain.)
In the final paragraph of my letter, I raise some simple questions on whether MAIB provided any further services for DfT and OSAG. You appear to have overlooked these final questions. Again, all I was looking for was simple yes/no answers and brief details.
You may gather from the above that I have not been satisfied with MAIB’s response to the questions I have raised, questions that I believe are both in the public interest and simple to address by the MAIB. I would therefore like to ask for an internal review into the way your organisation has dealt with my FOI request.
A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
Dear Mrs Drysdale
Thank you for your email. I acknowledge receipt of your complaint. You may expect a formal response within 5 working days.
Capt. S D Clinch
Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents
Dear Mrs Drysdale,
Re: Your request for a review of our response to your Freedom of Information request concerning the re-opening of the Formal Investigation of the TRIDENT Accident - MAIB ref. F0007118