§ MR. BELL (Derby)
I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether a public inquiry under the Fatal Accidents (Scotland) Act has been held into the cause of the accident to the ill-fated train at Elliot Junction on 28th December last; what was the verdict of the jury; if the jury found that the driver, G. Gourlay, was 1265 guilty of culpable negligence, under what circumstances or statute is the Crown taking criminal proceedings against him; why was he arrested before the sheriff's inquiry was held; and whether, in view of the anxiety and suffering caused to Gourlay, both mentally and physically, by having to undergo a third inquiry, he can see his way to advise the Crown to withdraw the prosecution.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. THOMAS SHAW, Hawick Burghs)
A public inquiry was instructed by me in regard to this lamentable railway accident in which twenty-two persons lost their lives, and the inquiry was duly held. The jury returned a detailed verdict which was published in full at the time and of which I should be glad to furnish my hon. friend with a copy. Gourlay was found to have been at fault. He is being proceeded against under the common law of Scotland. Immediately upon the occurrence of the accident in formation was laid in ordinary course of law before the sheriff at Dundee, and that Judge granted warrant for the arrest of Gourlay. He applied to be liberated on bail, and upon the matter being brought to my notice his application was acceded to by the Crown and granted. With regard to the last portion of the question I may explain that the facts appear to Crown Counsel to be such as to make it proper that the case should proceed to trial. My hon. friend may rely upon the trial being conducted with absolute fairness, and he will, I trust, appreciate that it would not be in the public interest or in the interest of the accused that I should make a further statement.