Fresh inquiry into `Derbyshire' sinking

A public inquiry into the mysterious sinking of the MV Derbyshire which claimed the lives of all 44 crew will be launched today.

John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, a former seaman, will announce the move and also present the findings of a pounds 2m investigation into the causes of the disaster. Victims' relatives have argued that the 90,000- ton ship, built on Teesside, sank in 1980 because of structural defects.

However, an inquiry in 1989 said that the vessel was sunk 1,000 miles south-east of Japan by Typhoon Orchid.

The new assessor's report is believed not to come up with a definite conclusion. Instead, Whitehall sources say that no single reason can be attributed to the sinking of the vessel.

Mr Prescott's inquiry, it is understood, will be established to discover what caused the disaster. It remains unclear whether the investigation will simply re-examine old evidence or consider new facts which has come to light since 1989.