'Grotesque carnival' tours McRae crash site

A SHERIFF has allowed what she herself feared would be a "grotesque carnival" to tour the scenes surrounding the death of Lanark rally ace Colin McRae and his three passengers in a helicopter crash.

In what is understood to be a landmark judgement in Scottish Fatal Accident Inquiries, Lanark's Sheriff Nikola Stewart agreed to a court submission from the BBC.

It allowed the press and public to tour today (Tuesday) with the Inquiry to significant locations along the final route McRae took between Larkhall and his Jerviswood home on the outskirts of Lanark on the afternoon of September 15, 2007, a journey which ended in a fatal crash.

Along with 39-year-old McRae, the Ex-World Champion's own five-year-old son Jonathan, the child's school chum six-year-old Ben Porcelli and family friend Graeme Duncan (37) also perished.

The sheriff's decision to allow the media to follow the tour - ending at the Jerviswood crash site - came after a lengthy court submission from QC Duncan Hamilton, engaged by the BBC to argue that all parts of what is meant to be a public inquiry should be accesible to the media, even the private grounds of the McRae home.

Another QC, acting for the McRae family, argued that the press being present would add nothing to public knowledge of the case, with no evidence being taken from witnesses during the tour.

However, after an hour's recess to consider the issue, Sheriff Stewart ruled that the media could accompany the Inquiry.

She had earlier expressed fears that this could "lead to a grotesque carnival" following the final journey of the helicopter passengers.

For more information on this story, don't miss this week's Carluke and Lanark Gazette which is in the shops on Wednesday, January 26.