640 men were killed when the South African troop carrier was hit by a cargo ship in 1917.
Wife Denies Navy Tried To Declare Missing Sailor Dead
The wife of a missing Gosport sailor has rejected a local MP's claims that the Royal Navy tried to declare her husband dead without consulting her.
Rachael MacColl issued a statement which said she had been kept informed by the Navy about all aspects of Leading Seaman Timmy MacColl's disappearance in Dubai last year.
On Tuesday 2 July, Gosport's Tory MP Caroline Dinenage said the family of LS MacColl, 28, were facing an uncertain future after the Royal Navy tried to declare him dead.
LS MacColl was serving on HMS Westminster when he went missing while the ship was visiting the United Arab Emirates in May last year. He was last seen getting into a taxi taking him back to the ship at Port Rashid.
Ms Dinenage said the Navy should not have sought to get a certificate of death for the leading seaman until they had spoken to his family in person.
In a question to Justice Minister Helen Grant in the Commons, Ms Dinenage said:
"Leading Seaman Timmy MacColl went missing while in Dubai with the Royal Navy last May. He leaves behind a wife and three small children.
"The Royal Navy are now seeking to get a certificate of death without any face-to-face consultation with his wife. On top of the emotional strain of this, it also casts a question mark over their financial future and indeed where they will live.
"Can you tell me to what extent the justice department can liaise with the armed forces in cases such as this and to ensure that the family are much better involved in such decisions?"
Ms Grant said she was happy to speak to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond about the case if Ms Dinenage wanted further information on the involvement of family members.
But, Mrs MacColl, from Gosport, Hampshire, disputed Ms Dinenage's claims and said she had been kept "informed and fully engaged" with the Royal Navy with regards to all aspects of her husband's disappearance.
"I can confirm that the Royal Navy has been discussing the process of registration of death for Timmy with me.
"This is incredibly painful and I do not wish to discuss this any further in public. I can say, however, that no application has been submitted to date.
"This remains an incredibly difficult time for me and my children."
Ms Dinenage said:
"The statement issued today on behalf of Rachael by the Royal Navy paints a very different picture from the emails and calls that I have received from her close family members over recent months, including this week.
"I'm absolutely delighted if by raising this question (which I did with the full knowledge and backing of the family) it has made a positive impact on the way that the Royal Navy engage with Rachael when making decisions about her future moving forwards."
A Navy spokesman said Mrs MacColl and her family continued to be provided support and kept informed of all developments in relation to her husband's case.
He said the Navy remained concerned for the safety of LS MacColl.
The 79-year-old man suffered a serious head injury in the Cranmer Road car park in Winton.
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