close
close

The government is also to blame for the M9 scandal that led to the death of Lamara Bell, the MSP claims

The Scottish Government must share the blame with the police for the M9 crash scandal, Willie Rennie claims.

The former Scots Lib Dems leader said he had raised concerns about the force’s call handling system before Lamara Bell and John Yuill died in 2015.

John Yuill and Lamara Bell

2

John Yuill and Lamara BellCredit: PA
Willie Rennie wrote to Angela Constance

2

Willie Rennie wrote to Angela ConstanceCredit: Getty

But he recounted how senior Nats – including then first minister Nicola Sturgeon – “refused to listen”.

This week, an inquest into the fatal crash blamed “organisational failure” by Police Scotland for the tragic death of 25-year-old Lamara.

She remained in a critical condition for three days by her dead partner John, 28, after their car left the motorway and ended up in a field near Stirling – despite a passerby saying he saw the vehicle .

In a letter to Justice Secretary Angela Constance, Mr Rennie claimed the SNP government rushed to create the national force in April 2013.

It saw call-handling staff replaced by officers who did not know how the system worked, he added.

Some brave whistleblowers have taken personal risks to make politicians aware it is not safe, while ministers have had the opportunity to hear reports from police and frontline staff. But Mr Rennie said: “The Scottish Government refused to listen.”

He explained: “In March and April 2015, months before the deaths of Ms Bell and Mr Yuill, I highlighted issues with the handling of calls in Scotland to then First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“There was no serious check on this.

Most read in The Scottish Sun

“Ms Sturgeon blamed the issues I raised in a case I raised on a simple ‘technical fault’ and promised me that ‘when concerns are raised they are responded to and taken measures”.

“As the inquiry’s ruling clearly demonstrates, that was not true.”

Woman ‘forgotten’ in M9 crash dies in hospital

The inquest into the fatal crash, held in Falkirk, ruled that Lamara would probably have survived if he had received prompt medical treatment.

Sheriff James Williamson criticized the failures at the call center in Bilston Glen, Midlothian. He said the force did not properly assess its risk procedures and the officer who did not record the call was inadequately trained and left largely unsupervised on a system that allowed human error to go undetected.

But Mr Rennie asked Ms Constance whether the Scottish Government would accept that it “takes responsibility for the failings which led to Ms Bell’s death”.

The MSP said there had been long delays in publishing the report and called for FAI reform to “ensure lessons are learned quickly and families are given closure”.

Chief Justice Mrs Constance said: “The Scottish Government and Police Scotland apologize unreservedly for the tragic loss of Lamara and John. Since 2015, Police Scotland has made significant improvements to their call handling systems.”