Was it red tape that killed Lesmahagow blast survivor?

The scene of the gas explosion in 2012.
The scene of the gas explosion in 2012.

A Lesmahagow man who cheated death in a gas explosion in 2012 was buried on Friday, his family bitterly blaming bureaucracy for making the final years of his life a misery.

Indeed, relatives of Danny Martyn claim that a government agency’s red tape “played a huge part” in his eventual demise a fortnight ago.

On March 25, 2012 a gas explosion ripped apart the home of Danny and his partner Sheila at Turfholm, Lesmahagow.

By some miracle, Danny was brought out the ruins injured but alive while Shiela was blown clear out of the house but also survived.

Danny’s brother Douglas, of Sandilands, said: “Their lives were shattered like their home and although their own insurance rebuilt their home, it could not rebuild their lives and their retirement dreams.

“Danny never recovered and his health went in a downward spiral for the next seven years.

“He died without receiving a penny in compensation and not knowing whether his partner would ever receive any.”

He explained that the couple had raised a court action for damages against the company blamed for the explosion but claimed foot-dragging by the Health and Safety Executive in producing the accident report delayed the case by five years.

“In February 2018, when the report was at last completed, the Sheriff at the Lanark court made known his displeasure at the ridiculous delay.

“It is indisputable that this inordinate delay played a huge part leading to Danny’s eventual death.

“They were both unable to get on with their lives; the frustration and trauma never went away and impacted Danny’s health.”

“The delay was a major a contributor to Danny’s death.”

A HSE spokeswoman said: “From the outset, we carried out thorough enquiries into this incident which led to a successful prosecution. While we appreciate the process was lengthy this was a complex investigation, dependent on a number of agencies, with many obstacles to navigate. During the investigation and subsequent prosecution, we tried to make contact with the Martyn family, with whom we sympathise, and the offer of a meeting remains in place.”

She added: “This matter was investigated by HSE at the time and our original investigation report was submitted to the Procurator Fiscal for review in early 2014. The Procurator Fiscal reviewed the report before asking HSE to collect more evidence so we pursued additional lines of inquiry, resulting in the submission of two further supplementary reports in the resulting four year period.”

Now the late Danny’s family are asking both their MP Dr Lisa Cameron and MSP Aileen Campbell to look into the matter, Douglas commenting: “The delay was a major a contributor to Danny’s death. There has never been any explanation as to why this Health and Safety Executive report took over five years to produce or why no consideration was ever given as to the impact this delay had on the victims. As to an apology - there has never been one.”

A Health and Safety Executive spokeswoman explained this week: “From the outset, we carried out thorough enquiries into this incident which led to a successful prosecution. While we appreciate the process was lengthy this was a complex investigation, dependent on a number of agencies, with many obstacles to navigate. During the investigation and subsequent prosecution, we tried to make contact with the Martyn family, with whom we sympathise, and the offer of a meeting remains in place.”

The Gazette understands that the Health and Safety report was first submitted to the Procurator Fiscal early in 2014: after reviewing it, the fiscal requested more information and the Executive duly collected more evidence. It submitted a total of two further supplementary reports over the next four years before the matter finally came to court early last year.