A tanker pilot answered charges behind closed doors at a disciplinary hearing yesterday

A tanker pilot answered charges behind closed doors at a disciplinary hearing yesterday, following the massive Sea Empress oil spill off west Wales. John Pearn, 34, was on the 147,000 tonnes Liberian-registered vessel when it ran aground on rocks in the Milford Haven estuary while on its way to unload cargo at a Texaco refinery last February.

The clean-up of pollution along parts of the Pembrokeshire coast is still going on. An inquiry team is looking into Mr Pearn's actions. He is charged under the Pilotage Act with misconduct or incompetence affecting his capabilities as a pilot. If the allegations are proved his pilot's licence could be suspended or revoked, effectively stopping him from working.

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