Thompsons Solicitors’ Aberdeen office hosted a major press conference for clients Derek and Lesley McIntosh to give their reaction to the findings of a fatal accident inquiry into their daughter Kaylee’s death.
The press conference generated extensive media coverage in newspapers, radio and TV all of whom reported the fact that the family accused the Army of murdering their daughter, and called for criminal proceedings against all those entrusted with the care of 14-year old Kaylee.
Chris Gordon, Managing Partner of Thompsons Aberdeen chaired the press conference.
He said: “We are here to discuss the determination of the Sheriff in the Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of Kaylee McIntosh.
“Thompsons are the largest Personal Injury firm in Scotland but we have never seen such a catalogue of failures by so many individuals in one incident.
Jayne Crawford Thompsons’ Senior Solicitor dealing with the case and who was present during the Fatal Accident Inquiry with the family said:
“The Sheriff’s determination details everything the family heard in evidence at the Fatal Accident Inquiry and sets out the shocking litany of errors which ultimately led to Kaylee’s tragic death.
“Derek and Lesley are disappointed however that the Sheriff within his wider remit has not set out detailed recommendations on steps that ought to be taken to ensure such a tragic event cannot be repeated.
“They, unlike the Sheriff are not reassured by the word of the army who are the same institution that oversaw the shambles that killed Kaylee, to the effect that they won’t let it happen again.
“The level of irresponsibility here is simply breathtaking.
“When a previous report was issued relative to this incident the conduct of individuals was likened to an episode of ‘Dad’s Army’, however there is a more sinister aspect to the behaviour of those involved who on any view showed a wilful disregard for the lives of the children in their charge.
“This is the first time the family have spoken about the tragic accident that caused their daughter’s death, and it is still very raw to them.”
Lesley McIntosh said: “Jayne Crawford asked me to write down my feelings when I read the Sheriff’s findings, and I wrote just three words ‘angry, disappointed and disgusted’.
“We don’t think he’s done Kaylee justice and that’s what we were looking for.
“It tells us all the things that went wrong, most of which we already knew from the MAIB report and the things that could have been done to prevent it happening.
“But we were looking for some really tough recommendation to prevent something like this happening again and they are just not there.”
Derek McIntosh said: “The Army murdered our Kaylee.
“It is as plain and simple as that.
“Kaylee didn’t die because someone made a silly mistake. She died because of a horrific catalogue of reckless and irresponsible conduct by those in charge.
“We believe that amounts to criminal conduct and there has to be criminal prosecutions against those responsible.”
Lesley said: “If I was driving my school bus and I caused a crash that killed one or more of the kids, I would be charged with reckless driving, tried and sent to jail and rightly so.
“But this was a case of dangerous and recklessness behaviour time and time again, but nobody has been charged, and everyone just walks away scot-free.
Derek said: “It’s just not right. Those responsible for murdering Kaylee have to face criminal charges.
“But it shouldn’t just be those involved on the day. Those higher up the chain of command also have to be brought to book for all the failings that allowed such a terrible thing to happen to Kaylee.
“We believe there have to be criminal charges to give Kaylee the justice she deserves.
“But we also have to make sure the Army really does learn lessons and most of all to make sure that nothing like this can ever happen again, and that no other parents have to go through what we are suffering.”
Lesley added: “We are still so angry with the Army and the people they left to look after our precious daughter, and in particular Kaylee’s unit the 2nd Battalion Highlanders Army Cadet force.
“She was such a special person, and they showed total disregard for her and her safety.
“Her devotion to the Army just makes it harder to bear. She was so proud of being a lance corporal and having two stars and working for her third. But everyone just calls her a cadet.”
They continued: “The Sheriff said it was not his job to blame anyone but he singles out Major George McCallum as being responsible for a whole catalogue of the wrong decisions that caused the tragedy.
“The thing we find hardest to live with is the fact that even after all these terrible decisions and even when Kaylee was trapped under the boat she could have so easily been saved if he had kept a proper count of everyone on board.
“But instead he climbed onto the upturned hull of the boat, and hauled youngsters up beside him, and all the time they were squeezing out the air that was keeping Kaylee alive.
“That vision haunts us both every time we close our eyes.”
Derek said: “Instead of taking a proper head-count Major McCallum actually shouted ‘Is everyone OK?’ How stupid is that and how is any kid like Kaylee trapped under the boat supposed to respond to that?
“The Sheriff also said it would be wrong to blame, Vicky Lorimer because she was hysterical at the time.
“But we can’t understand how anyone could come out from under the boat without at least telling someone there was still another child trapped.
Lesley said: “She also had special responsibility for looking after ten of the cadets including Kaylee and three others who were on that boat, and she clearly didn’t do that.
“If she is not to blame it calls into question how the army selects and trains adults to look after children like Kaylee.”
Jayne Crawford gave the following response to questions:
“Derek and Lesley’s legal team consider there is sufficient evidence to prosecute individuals. Beyond that it is not for us to get involved in this matter. The decision whether or not to take criminal proceedings rests with Crown Counsel who must make the decision in the public interest.
“We have instructions raise civil proceedings on behalf of the family to hammer home the message to the army that such acts of negligence cannot be tolerated.
“The priority for Derek and Lesley is justice for Kaylee which they believe can only be addressed by criminal prosecutions against those responsible for causing Kaylee’s death.
Recommendations they would like to have seen the Sheriff make:
“It was suggested in our submissions on behalf of the family that there ought to be external review procedures in place to oversee the Army Cadet Force, and legislation/regulations put in place with suitable powers of enforcement.”