Rally Marshal Approved Death Spot

3 August 2017, 15:20 | Updated: 3 August 2017, 15:45

Jim Clark Rally

The chief marshal at a rally approved the spot where a fan was standing shortly before three people were killed in a crash, an inquiry has heard.

Keir Scott said he would have changed position if he had known the area was "notorious" for car accidents.

He told the inquiry he believed he was standing out-with a prohibited area but later discovered safety plans banned spectators from the site at the Jim Clark Rally near Coldstream in Scottish Borders.

Mr Scott, from Newcastle, was giving evidence at a joint fatal accident inquiry examining the deaths of photographer Iain Provan, 64, his partner Elizabeth Allan, 63, known as Betty, and Len Stern 71, at the May 2014 rally, and the death of Joy Robson, 51, at the Snowman Rally in Glenurquhart in the Highlands the previous year.

Mr Scott told the inquiry at Edinburgh Sheriff Court he stood behind a taped off area near a humpback bridge at the Swinton stage, thinking it was a good place to take photographs as cars leave the ground.

He said: "The chief marshal stopped at our point where we were standing behind the tape. He said something along the lines of 'As long as you're standing behind the tape I'm quite happy'. I said 'We're okay to stand here?' and he said 'yeah, it's fine'.

"I was informed not long after the accident that the whole area was a prohibited area, but I didn't know that [at the time] and neither did anybody else.

"If I had known the area was notorious for accidents with cars, I would have changed my opinion.

"The photographs inevitably saved my life. If I hadn't been taking photographs I may not have realised the car was out of control."

The keen rally fan discussed moving position shortly before the accident due to safety concerns, then noticed something "wasn't right" with the oncoming car and ran away before it crashed.

The court was shown footage of the car swerving and then hitting the group of spectators.

Mr Scott said he "froze" after the accident and could see a man screaming "Dad" and someone lying on the floor.

The 29-year-old called 999 then went to stop the rally, and he became emotional as he described "cowardly running past" the casualties.

He said his experience made him become more involved in marshalling but changes "pushed through" by the Motor Sports Association (MSA) following a review after the accident mean events are "struggling" for marshals, with an event he is attending this weekend having two unmanned marshal posts.

He said spectator and marshal education is key to preventing accidents, adding: "It's talking and attitude that's going to save lives. People sitting in an office in London, that's what they are not realising because they are not out there.

"The new rules brought in by the MSA, they are still not going to prevent deaths."

He said the dangers of motorsport mean the regulations would only prevent the possibility of fatalities.

The inquiry heard marshal numbers are rising and the MSA has implemented all but two of the official review recommendations.