THE Royal Navy has launched an internal inquiry into the way it handles missing persons cases after the disappearance of the Gosport sailor Timmy MacColl.
The review of procedures follows criticism of the service and British authorities by Timmy’s relatives.
The 27-year-old dad-of-two vanished after a night out drinking in Dubai when his ship HMS Westminster was docked in the Emirate.
Two shipmates who gave statements to navy police have been accused of changing their story several times since they claimed to have put the sailor in a taxi outside a biker bar at 2am on May 27.
The family is also frustrated that Dubai police circulated the picture of the wrong man to locals in the early days of the investigation.
The navy has stressed it is not running its own police investigation into Timmy’s disappearance, but is carrying out an inquiry into how it deals with missing sailors.
Brenda Cunningham, the grandmother of Timmy’s pregnant wife Rachael, said Westminster’s commanding officer Capt Nick Hine revealed to them that his shipmates had changed their police statements four times.
She said: ‘What people have to realise is that all of Timmy’s family are very angry about how time was wasted at the very beginning – wrong photo, shipmates not giving correct statements, etcetera. Police time was wasted because of this.’
A Royal Navy spokesman confirmed an internal inquiry has been launched into Timmy’s case.
She said: ‘The purpose of a Service Inquiry is to determine the facts of a particular matter.
‘This is normal procedure in such cases. It does not attribute blame.
‘In this case, the SI has been convened to assess current processes, policies and procedures relating to the reporting and handling of a missing persons case within the Royal Navy.
‘It is not a Royal Navy investigation into Leading Seaman MacColl’s disappearance.
‘The Dubai Police has primacy for the investigation and search in Dubai.’