Sheriff rules that rally deaths could have been avoided

The scene after the crash at the rally in 2014.
The scene after the crash at the rally in 2014.

The deaths of three motorsport fans near Swinton during 2014’s Jim Clark Rally could have been avoided if better safety precautions had been in place, a sheriff has ruled.

Sheriff Kenneth Maciver slammed the rally’s system for identifying and overseeing safe viewing spots for spectators as ‘weak, ambiguous and ultimately inadequate’.

In his fatal accident inquiry report, published this week after hearings earlier this year, Mr Maciver said it was down to good luck rather than good planning that the car responsible for the deaths had been stopped from going any further, and potentially knocking over even more onlookers, by a post and hedgerow.

The three people killed were photographer Iain Provan, 64, his partner Betty Allan, 63, both of Barrhead in East Renfrewshire, and spectator Len Stern, 71, of Bearsden in East Dunbartonshire.

They died of multiple injuries after rally driver David Carney lost control of his car, careering off the road and crashing into them in May that year, Mr Maciver found.

Mr Maciver found that the deaths could have been averted if people had not been allowed to watch it from an unsafe vantage point.

A spokesman for the rally’s organisers said: “A copy of the sheriff’s determination has been received. This is quite a lengthy and detailed report which will have to be read and digested, after which senior officials will meet to discuss it and its findings.”