Royal Navy has tried to declare a missing sailor dead, claims Gosport MP

MISSING Timmy MacColl
MISSING Timmy MacColl

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THE family of missing sailor Timmy MacColl have said the navy’s alleged attempt to declare him dead is ‘abhorrent.’

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage claimed in parliament today that the Royal Navy sought to declare the missing 28-year-old, of Gosport, dead without consulting his wife Rachael.

Her grandfather Jim Cunningham said he had been given an indication of the navy’s actions but had no proof.

He said: ‘It’s highly unethical because she should at least have it discussed with her.

‘I find that absolutely abhorrent, that they could just steamroller the way through.

‘It’s a pity they haven’t been so forward in the investigation.

‘There seems to be an unholy rush at the moment, it’s a pity they didn’t do that in the investigation stage.

‘The burning question of course is what evidence do they have?

‘If they have evidence to say he’s dead then it’s about time they shared it with the family.’

Today, Ms Dinenage said the navy should not try to get a certificate of death until they had spoken the family.

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 she was happy to speak to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond about the case.

She said: ‘The Ministry of Defence has its own procedures for presumed missing service personnel to be (declared) dead and it does not liaise with the Ministry of Justice in individual cases.

‘But I am very happy if you would like some further information on the involvement of family members, to actually make some representations to the Defence Secretary on your behalf.’

Speaking outside the chamber, Ms Dinenage said it was ‘simply unacceptable’ to exclude the family from decisions about requesting a certificate of death.

She said: ‘I think Rachael and the family feel now that it is unlikely that Timmy is going to be found safe and well and they have kind of prepared themselves that when the news comes it will not be good news.

‘While what they have had to deal with is incredibly difficult, a decision like this impacts on their financial future and where they are going to live and therefore it is uber-important that the family are engaged with in a decision like this.’

There are also fears that Rachael and three children could be forced to leave their military accommodation.

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.

As reported, Rachael has since made an emotional appeal for information about his whereabouts.

A Royal Navy spokeswoman said: ‘The Royal Navy remains concerned for the safety of Timmy MacColl and continues to provide support for his family.

‘This remains a missing person case.

‘The Dubai Police have primacy for the investigation into LS MacColl’s disappearance and search.

‘There is regular contact between the RN, and its representatives, and Mrs MacColl; she is being kept informed of all developments.

‘We have provided Mrs MacColl with written assurance over her husband’s status for pay purposes and assurance of her eligibility to remain in their married quarter.

She added the Dubai police are in charge of the investigation and the MoD and navy liasie with them.