MacColl's family win first battle in quest for justice

The disc marks sales of more than 100,000 copies of The Best of Kirsty MacColl, and its success comes nearly five years after her daughter, belatedly recognised as one of the best singer songwriters Britain has produced, died in horrific circumstances while on holiday in Mexico.

The gold disc will be hung close to the silver one awarded to her daughter almost a quarter of a century ago for "They Don't Know", written when she was 19, her first single.

The gold disc comes as the family are celebrating a breakthrough in their long campaign to bring to justice those she believes were culpable in her daughter's death. Ms MacColl, 41, was struck by a speedboat while diving with her sons, Jamie, 15, and Louis, 13, off the island of Cozumel in December 2000.

After two visits by Mrs MacColl and her supporters to Mexico, many meetings with government ministers and officials and strong support from the Foreign Office and the British ambassador to Mexico, authorities there have finally agreed to re-investigate her daughter's death. The inquiry could lead to the prosecution for perjury of a leading Mexican supermarket magnate, Guillermo Gonzalez Nova, who owned the speedboat that killed Ms MacColl.

Her mother, now 82, said: "It has been a very long struggle but we are very pleased that the authorities have finally agreed to re-open the case.''

After "They Don't Know", Ms MacColl, whose father was the folk singer Ewan MacColl, had success with the ironic country rocker "There's A Boy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis". She went on to build up a loyal following during the late 1980s and 1990s, while her duet with the Pogues, "Fairytale of New York", has become a Christmas favourite.

Despite being praised for her strong, clear voice and her often bitter-sweet and witty songs, she never enjoyed the huge commercial success during her lifetime that many in the music business believed she deserved.

At the time of her death, she had a new and well-received album, Tropical Brain- storm, which reflected her growing interest in Latin American music; she had also just completed a radio series on Cuban music. And she was in a new relationship - her first serious one since her marriage to the producer Steve Lillywhite had ended in 1994 - with James Knight, a musician she met when he was teaching saxophone to Louis. The Mexican holiday was a pre-Christmas treat for her sons.

Ms MacColl had just surfaced from a reef dive when she was struck by the propeller of the speedboat, the Percalito, after pushing Jamie to safety. She died instantly.

Travelling in the Percalito were Mr Gonzalez Nova, several members of his family and an employee, Juan Jose Cem Yam, who subsequently confessed to being behind the wheel, despite having no licence or boating experience. In March 2003, he was sentenced to two years and 10 months for wrongful killing, but avoided sentence by buying his way out of prison at the sum of one peso a day - a total of £61 - plus damages of £1,250.

Believing that Cem Yam had been made a scapegoat for members of the Gonzalaz Nova family who were at the helm, an outraged Mrs MacColl, her family and other supporters and friends, who had launched a Justice for Kirsty campaign, lobbied to have the case reopened.

The campaign obtained evidence that the boat was travelling much faster than had previously been believed and that Cem Yam was not at the wheel; it was also believed that other potential witnesses did not come forward or were reluctant to give evidence against an important family.

But the Mexican federal authorities repeatedly refused to reopen the case, which had been treated as a local, state matter, despite a personal plea from Mrs MacColl last year.

They were also amazed to learn that subpoenas served on Mr Gonzalez Nova and his daughter-in-law could not be served because, said the police, they "could not be found". However, in June, Mrs MacColl and Fred Shortland, a human rights campaigner, made a more successful second visit to Mexico, this time supported by the Foreign Office.

Mr Shortland told The Independent: "After considerable efforts on our part, they have now agreed to a formal reopening of the case as a federal inquiry and the investigation is proceeding."

The campaign withheld the announcement of their breakthrough until this week in order to be sure that the promises they have been given have been acted on.

Whatever the outcome, the campaign is to continue, with a complaint to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the "disgraceful" way they believe Mexico handled the case. They will also make sure that the state authorities deliver on promises to tighten regulations governing speedboats and diving in the area.

Tomorrow Mrs MacColl and other members of the family will join fans from all over the world for an annual get-together in Soho Square, commemorated in one of her best songs, at a bench placed there in her honour; everyone repairs to a nearby pub afterwards to sing.

"We are all so proud of her and so pleased that the record has been awarded a gold disc,'' said Mrs MacColl, "but we still want justice for Kirsty and I won't give up until we get it.''

The campaign can be contacted at www.justiceforkirsty.org

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy