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January 25, 2013

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Ministry of Defence censured over cadet drowning

Systemic organisational failings contributed to the death of a 14-year-old cadet, who became trapped under a boat, which capsized during a training exercise in bad weather, a Crown Censure meeting has heard.

The Censure follows a hearing at Inverness Sheriff Court in November last year, which concluded with a £5000 fine imposed on the leader of the boating trip, Major George McCallum, after he admitted safety breaches.

At the time, Sheriff William Taylor made it clear he felt McCallum shouldn’t be the lone scapegoat. Describing the organisation of the expedition as “shambolic”, the sheriff said: “McCallum was just one cog in a much larger wheel and the activities involved others, as well as him. It is my hope matters will not end here today.”

Kaylee McIntosh was part of a group of cadets taking part in a training camp at South Uist. On 3 August 2007, Major George McCallum led an exercise to take some of the cadets by boat from Loch Carnan to Loch Skipport.

Part-way through, the trip was abandoned owing to poor weather, but while trying to turn around, one of the boats capsized, throwing everyone overboard.

One of the instructors, who escaped from under the boat, promised the girl she would come back for her, but, in her panic, she forgot to immediately inform anyone that Kaylee was trapped. The teenager was trapped beneath the boat for around two hours before it was noticed she was missing.

The initial investigation into Kaylee’s death was led by the Maritime Coastguard Agency, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and the Northern Constabulary – and later, the HSE, in line with national protocols on workplace fatalities.

The Crown Censure meeting, which was held today (25 January), related to the MoD’s discharge of duties under sections 2 and 3 of the HSWA 1974 and regulation 3(1) of the MHSWR 1999.

The HSE said the following systemic failures were apparent in the planning for the exercise:
• it was unclear how the activity was actually authorised;€

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Angus Kaye
Angus Kaye
10 years ago

Absolutely appauling. Time for the uniformed youth services to stop being protected under crown censure. I have followed this case since the accident and the negligence displayed by the adults in charge would have very different consequences had this been a non uniformed organisation.