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
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Stinson Hunter and his associates Stubbs and Grime in Channel 4 documentary The Paedophile Hunter

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Arts and Entertainment
This Banksy mural in Clacton has been removed by the council
art
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer, Lord Alan Sugar, Karren Brady are returning for The Apprentice series 10

TV
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder star in 'Girl, Interrupted'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
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.

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?