Family of mother who died after M9 crash awarded more than £1m
Lamara Bell died in hospital after lying undiscovered at side of motorway for three days.
The family of a young mother who died after lying undiscovered in a car for days following a crash on the M9 has been awarded more than £1m in damages.
Lamara Bell and her partner John Yuill both died after their car left the motorway near Stirling on July 5, 2015.
Despite a call being made to police, it took three days for the force to respond and when officers finally arrived at the scene, Yuill was found to be dead while Bell died four days later in hospital.
In a statement, the Bell family said: “Imagine chasing answers, recognition and justice for six years and all you get is silence then in the space of three months you get a conviction and a civil settlement – it is fair say our thoughts and feelings are all over the place right now.
“Our pain and loss won’t stop just because the legal proceedings are over but there is at least a sense of peace that comes with their conclusion.
“But that peace is fleeting because ultimately we are still without Lamara.
“We are without a daughter and sister and her children are without a mother – such an outcome cannot, and should not ever, go unheeded in a fair society and we are glad to finally have attained that which we sought.
“We’d like to thank our friends, family, community and legal team for all their support but now we really would like to be left alone as we look to the future.”
Police Scotland was fined £100,000 earlier this year after admitting failings which “materially contributed” to the deaths of Bell and Yuill.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard in September that Bell would probably have survived had she had been found sooner.
Delivering the sentence, Lord Beckett said: “This case arose from terrible events in which two relatively young people died, one of them after days of severe physical suffering when she must have been in an almost unimaginable state of anxiety.
“As days and hours went by she must have been in a state of disbelief that no help arose.”
Lord Beckett said it was “unprecedented” for the police service of Scotland to have been accused and convicted in the High Court.
The office of the Chief Constable of Police Scotland admitted it failed to ensure that people, including Yuill and Bell, were not exposed to risks to their health and safety by failing to provide an “adequate and reliable call-handling system” between April 1 2013 and March 1 2016.
It also failed to ensure the system was “not vulnerable to unacceptable risks arising from human error” and to ensure that all relevant information reported by members of the public was recorded on a Police Scotland IT system so that it could be considered and a police response provided where appropriate.
The force admitted that as a result, members of the public were exposed to risks to their health and safety and, in particular, on July 5, 2015, a police officer at the force call-handling centre at Bilston Glen Service Centre failed to record a phone call from a member of the public reporting that a vehicle was at the bottom of an embankment at the side of the eastbound junction nine slip road from the M80 on to the M9.
The phone call was not recorded on any Police Scotland IT system and no action was taken.
The force admitted Bell and Yuill remained “unaided and exposed to the elements” in the car between July 5 and 8, 2015, and that the failings “materially contributed” to Bell’s death on July 12 that year at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.
The force pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
David Nellaney, Partner at Digby Brown, added: “The Bell family has endured things very few people could ever comprehend but the patience, resilience and compassion they have shown at all times cannot be understated.
“It is unfortunate Police Scotland did not admit its failings sooner as it might have spared them unnecessary distress but at least we do now have a conclusion and the Bells can rightly focus on themselves and times ahead.”
Two men have been arrested and charged in connection with the death of a cyclist who disappeared more than four years ago.
Anthony Parsons, also known as Tony, travelled from his home in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, to Fort William in the Highlands for a charity cycle on September 29, 2017, but failed to return home.
The 63-year-old former Navy petty officer travelled south on the A82 and was last seen on October 2 at around 11.30pm outside the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, Argyll and Bute.
On January 12 this year, specialist search officers, supported by forensic scientists, discovered his remains in a remote area of ground close to a farm near the A82 at Bridge of Orchy.
On Thursday, Police Scotland confirmed that two 29-year-old men had been arrested and charged in connection with Mr Parsons’ death.
The suspects are due to appear at Dumbarton Sheriff Court in West Dunbartonshire later on Thursday.
Detective inspector John McFall, of the Major Investigations Team and who led the inquiry team, said: “I would like to offer my thanks to the local community for all their help and assistance throughout this investigation and to those who came forward with significant information.”
Warning over pilots’ lack of flying after ‘serious incident’ at airport
There was 67 passengers and six crew members on board the plane.
The rapid descent of a Tui Airways plane could be linked to its pilots being grounded for long periods during the coronavirus pandemic, investigators said.
It was revealed that the pilots of the plane, that significantly deviated from its flight path and started descending 3000ft a minute, had not flown in over a year.
The ‘serious’ incident took place at Aberdeen Airport on September 11 when a Boeing 737-800 with 67 passengers and six crew members on board deviated ‘significantly’ during a go-around.
No link was established between the incident and the fact neither of the pilots had ‘flown for significant periods’ for around 18 months before, however the report found that it was “clearly a possibility”.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has now issued a warning to raise awareness of the event and to highlight that go-arounds can “provoke errors” if not “practiced frequently”.
In a statement released on Thursday the AAIB said: “The pilots, like many other pilots, had not flown for significant periods during the 18 months before this incident.
“Although the investigation has not established a link between this incident and a lack of recent line flying, it is clearly a possibility.
“Therefore, this Special Bulletin is published to raise awareness of this event and to highlight that go‑arounds from intermediate altitudes on an approach can provoke errors because they are not practiced frequently.
“The aircraft deviated significantly from the expected flight path, initially climbing, but just before it reached the cleared altitude began to descend.
“It descended with a maximum rate of descent of more than 3000 ft/min, and it accelerated to an airspeed of 286kt (the selected airspeed was 200kt) before the crew corrected the flightpath.
“The subsequent approach and landing were completed without further incident.”
More than 100 soldiers are being deployed to assist people still without power in Aberdeenshire following the devastation caused by Storm Arwen.
Troops will start arriving in affected communities on Thursday morning after the local authority made a formal approach to the UK Government requesting assistance.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has reconnected more than 120,000 customers following “catastrophic damage” caused by Friday’s storm, and hoped to restore power to an additional 2500 homes overnight.
The majority of those still without supply are in rural communities in areas including Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus, Perthshire and Stirlingshire.
A spokesperson for Aberdeenshire Council said around 120 military personnel are due to arrive in the area “to support our ongoing resilience efforts in the aftermath of Storm Arwen”.
The spokesperson added: “The troops will focus on welfare checks on the ground within those communities still impacted by loss of power and will supplement what our own teams have been doing since the weekend.
“We continue to appreciate all the wonderful examples of community assistance which continue to be evident across the region – whether it be supplies of hot food and drinks, checking on elderly residents and neighbours or helping to deliver supplies.
“Thank you for your all your endeavours and rest assured we continue to work tirelessly to provide the support our communities require at this challenging time.”
SSEN has said it will reimburse all reasonable accommodation costs for any customer unable to make alternative arrangements.
Customers unable to access the company’s welfare facilities for free hot food and drinks can also claim the cost of takeaways or meals from local establishments, up to £15 per person.
Chris Burchell, SSEN managing director, described Storm Arwen as a “once in a generation extreme weather event” and said the company was doing all it could to restore power “as quickly as possible”.
He added: “As our teams continue to make good progress repairing and restoring the high voltage network in what remains very challenging conditions, we are increasingly turning our focus to the low voltage network, which serves single or groups of homes, often in rural and isolated communities.
“Whilst the low voltage network only serves a fraction of the customers the high voltage network supplies, the repairs required to restore power are just as challenging and complex, which in some cases will require the rebuild of entire sections of overhead line.
“We therefore encourage all customers who remain off supply, particularly where overhead network infrastructure supplies single or small groups of houses, to consider making alternative arrangements.
“This includes our enhanced welfare provisions, with our teams proactively contacting customers to help coordinate support where possible.”
“It would be the greatest gift that the people of Scotland could give to those whose voices are not being heard.”
Kay Smith is talking about the right to die at a time of her choosing, surrounded by her family and having said a proper goodbye.
The 57-year-old used to relish adventure, with a passion for scuba diving in exotic locations around the world, but she is now living with a range of debilitating illnesses and her life has changed beyond recognition.
Kay’s medical notes describe “multiple comorbidities” – she has an extreme form of lupus, which attacks the immune system and has led to other complicated conditions, including peripheral artery disease and diabetes.
Also allergic to painkillers, she expects to die from sepsis, or blood poisoning, which can be caused by lupus.
Having seen so many deaths in her career as a palliative care nurse, she’s passionate about ending her life on her own terms and is backing a change to the law that would allow assisted dying.
“I have daughters, I have my husband, I have my grandchildren, I don’t want to watch them watch me suffer and die from sepsis, because it’s a horrendous way to die,” Kay, from Kilwinning, tells Thursday night’s episode of STV current affairs show Scotland Tonight.
“The public has to realise that [if] the law’s passed, it doesn’t mean to say you use it. It’s a personal choice, but in choosing, it gives you peace of mind and allows you to live the best life you can until that moment arrives.
“And that to me is priceless, I could have quality time with my family and be able to say my goodbyes.
“As a nurse and as a person in my situation [a change in the law] will be sheer and utter relief.”
His proposal argues that terminally ill, mentally competent adults should be able to access “safe and compassionate dying if they choose, rather than face a prolonged and painful death”. It says the proposal aims to “complement palliative care”.
‘Improve end-of-life care instead’
But opponents say that rather than change the law, palliative care should be improved to help those at the end of their lives.
Dr Gillian Wright is part of Our Duty of Care, an organisation made up of healthcare workers who are opposed to assisted dying laws.
The group has written a letter to health secretary Humza Yousaf, outlining their main concerns.
“Our principal concerns are for vulnerable members of society, particularly those who are disabled, those who are terminally ill, those who are depressed,” says Dr Wright, a former palliative care doctor.
“It’s a huge thing for doctors to change from preserving life to taking life, and that’s the fundamental objection we have.
“We felt it was really important that there was a clear medical voice of opposition against assisted dying.
“And rather than say to people when you’re giving them a terminal diagnosis that the state would help them take their own life, we should as a society be backing really excellent palliative care research.”
Dr Wright says there are concerns that if a law is passed, the legislation could be extended in the future and believes vulnerable patients would be most at risk.
“If you look at an example such as Canada, they introduced legislation similar to what he is proposing – for terminally ill, mentally competent adults – but already, within five years, it has been challenged in the courts for being discriminatory,” she says.
“I think the current law [in Scotland] is the safeguard, it is the protection of the vulnerable. I would be really concerned for patients such as dementia, for children, for adolescents that we would be in a situation where we can’t come back from.”
Scotland Tonight is on STV and the STV Player at 7.30pm on Thursday, December 2.
Injured sea turtle finds new home 5000 miles away in Scotland
April, an olive ridley sea turtle, was found with a plastic bag around her neck in the Maldives.
A sea turtle has a new home in Scotland after being found injured and entangled in a plastic bag in the Maldives.
April, an olive ridley sea turtle, was in care at the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre at the Four Seasons Resort Maldives Landaa Giraavaru after being found injured in Raa Atoll in April 2019.
When she was found, she was floating on the ocean surface entangled in netting with a plastic bag around her neck.
She was already missing her right front flipper because of the netting and her left front flipper was injured by the friction caused by the plastic bag.
An X-ray later revealed she was also suffering from a lung infection, with possible tears in her lungs.
Vets found April suffers from buoyancy issues – where she cannot fully immerse herself under water – which means that she cannot return to the wild.
This has led to the turtle being relocated 5000 miles from the Maldives to Loch Lomond, making her the first olive ridley sea turtle in the UK.
Two Maldives-based environmental agencies, Reefscapers And Marine Savers, as well as the UK’s Sea Life aquarium business and its conservation charity the Sea Life Trust, teamed up with IAG Cargo to fly April to her new UK home.
April joins five other sea turtles taken to new homes through the Flying Turtles Project, while Marine Savers has rehabilitated and released more than 180 others to date.
Kathryn Angel, Sea Life Loch Lomond’s general manager, said: “We are thrilled to welcome April to the Loch Lomond family. She has settled in brilliantly. To have a turtle in our facility once again is a real pleasure.
“April suffered injuries as a result of plastic pollution, so by having April on site at Sea Life Loch Lomond, children can actually see the impact that plastic pollution can have on the creatures first hand.”
Andy Torbet, Sea Life Trust ambassador, said: “Being re-homed to the Sea Life Centre is great for April, it’s going to give her the best quality of life that she can have for the remainder of her life.
“She’ll be a great ambassador not only for marine life and sea turtles, but because of her injuries, which were quite obvious, she’ll act as an ambassador for the idea of plastic pollution and ghost netting being an issue, and why we need to do something about that.
“When you see an injured turtle up close and personal with injuries caused by ghost nets and plastic pollution, that sort of issue is driven home a lot more intensely.”
Covid-19 vaccines for potential booster campaigns in the next two years have been secured by ministers.
Some scientists have suggested that Covid-19 will need to be kept at bay with repeated vaccination campaigns while others have said it is too early to tell whether annual boosters will be needed.
While there is uncertainty over the need for future campaigns, the Government announced that it has signed deals for 114 million Moderna and Pfizer jabs which will be delivered in 2022 and 2023.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said the deals “future proof” the country’s vaccine programme.
They include 60 million additional doses of the Moderna vaccine and 54 million more Pfizer/BioNTech doses.
The Department of Health and Social Care said the deals include access to modified vaccines if they are needed to combat Omicron and future variants of concern.
It said the new deals are in addition to 35 million additional doses of Pfizer/BioNTech ordered in August for delivery in the second half of next year, and the 60 million Novavax and 7.5 million GSK/Sanofi doses expected in 2022.
The department said the Government already has enough supply of both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech for the expanded booster programme.
It comes after officials announced that all adults in the UK would be offered a booster shot before the end of January amid growing concerns about the Omicron variant.
Vaccination experts advising the Government have expressed preference for the mRNA vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna.
Trial data suggests booster doses are generally well tolerated and provide a substantial increase in vaccine-induced immune responses, in particular, and that mRNA vaccines provide a strong booster effect.
Javid said: “Thanks to the Vaccines Taskforce, we have an excellent track record of securing the vaccines the country needs to keep this virus at bay.
“These new deals will future proof the Great British vaccination effort – which has so far delivered more than 115 million first, second and booster jabs across the UK – and will ensure we can protect even more people in the years ahead.
“This is a national mission and our best weapon to deal with this virus and its variants is to get jabs in arms – so when you are called forward, get the jab and get boosted.”
But the announcement comes as global health leaders have questioned the UK’s booster campaign.
Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organisation’s health emergencies programme, said he is not aware of any evidence that would suggest offering booster jabs to the entire population gives any greater protection to healthy people.
Asked about the acceleration of the UK’s booster programme, he told a press briefing: “It’s tough for some countries who have huge amounts of excess vaccine to decide who to give it to, but that’s not the problem being faced by a lot of countries around the world who can’t get even primary vaccination to their most vulnerable, so it’s a luxurious position to be in if you’re in a position to be able to have enough vaccine to do that.”
He added: “The primary objective, I think of all governments, now must be, in the face of Delta and Omicron and others, is to ensure that all vulnerable individuals, people of older age, people with underlying conditions, are immediately offered the vaccine to ensure that everyone has had at least a primary course of vaccine.
“There are others here who can better answer than me regarding the benefits of a booster regarding other variants, but right now there is no evidence that I’m aware of that would suggest that boosting the entire population is going to necessarily provide any greater protection for otherwise healthy individuals against hospitalisation or death.
“The real risk of severe disease, hospitalisation, and death lies in particularly at risk and vulnerable individuals who do require protection against all variants of Covid-19.”