Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur has today announced that his party will use this Thursday’s forthcoming justice debate to offer Parliament the chance to trigger reform of the Fatal Accident Inquiry system.
Scottish Liberal Democrats have called for inquiries to be removed from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service altogether. The party says that a new system of checks and balances is needed to add impetus to the process, like coroners do in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The party will table an amendment designed to kickstart reform and put an end to the decade long delays.
The party will also use the debate to emphasise the need to split the role of the Lord Advocate and end the conflict of interest between political duties and the responsibility to independently prosecute.
Mr McArthur said:
“The current set up in the Crown Office isn’t working. There needs to be a full and frank conversation about its reform.
“The Fatal Accident Inquiry system is grotesquely complex. It is utterly incapable of delivering timely justice. Too often it adds to the misery for the families of those involved. We need change so that those affected by tragedy get swifter closure, and lessons are learned.
“The system is in desperate need of reform. Scottish Liberal Democrat research found evidence of a huge backlog, with families still waiting up to a decade to see answers.
“It is difficult to imagine the pain and frustration that loved ones must feel when such tragedy is followed by stagnant and silent investigations. But these delays also pose a danger to public safety. Without learning lessons, tragedies might be repeated.
“There’s no more time for tinkering round the edges on this. We need a commitment to a fundamental overhaul. Scottish Liberal Democrats will use this week’s justice debate to ask other parties to trigger that process this week.”
The party's research in 2019 found records of Fatal Accident Inquiries taking up to a decade to be completed. In response to these revelations, there was yet more assurances that these delays would be removed and further funding. However, since then more inquiries have been published after significant delays:
- The inquiry into the death of Stanislaw Bania in 2010, only concluded in August 2020
- The inquiry into the death of Boguslaw Kopec who died on 13 March 2011, only concluded in March 2021
A report published in 2019 found that the FAI system was plagued by “unexplained delays” that “have the potential to devalue the purpose” of the system.