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Scapa Flow Charters Overturns Court Ruling Following Diver Death

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Stromness based diving business, Scapa Flow Charters has successfully overturned a judge’s ruling following the death of a diver in 2012.

Lex Warner from Sutton Coldfield died during a technical dive from the Jean Elaine in August 2012. Prior to the dive, Mr Warner had fallen over onboard from which is suffered unrecognised serious internal injury. This resulted in Mr Warner experiencing difficulties during the dive and he died whilst making a rapid ascent to the surface.

The original case was brought on behalf of Vincent Warner, who was only 9 months old when his father Lex Warner passed way.

During the initial court proceedings, the court members heard that Mr Warner, 50, from Sutton Coldfield had fallen in full kit while still onboard boat. Despite being asked by skipper, Andy Cuthbertson if he wanted to abandon the dive, Lex insisted that he was fine to enter the water.

The judge, Lord Sandison said the skipper had “not done enough to minimise the recognised risk of divers walking on deck in fins carrying heavy equipment”. He said that Mr Warner had received an abdominal injury from the fall and despite being an “experienced diver”,  made an emergency ascent “in an anxious and ultimately panicked state” from 80m.

Lord Sandison ruled that if safer practices had been in place, Mr Warner would not have been seriously hurt from the fall and the resulting incident was therefore the fault of Scapa Flow Charters and the company was ordered to pay £290,000 compensation to the family.

Ruling Overturned

Now senior judges in Scotland’s highest civil court have overturned the initial ruling. They have concluded that it was the divers’ responsibility to move safely across the deck and that as experienced divers this should have been “obvious” to Mr Warner and his group.

They also ruled that fault or neglect from the boat owners was not established.

We will add more information as it becomes available.

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