Climber promises share of cash for rescuers

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The Independent Online
THE woman climber who sold the story of her rescue from the Cairngorm mountains to tabloid newspapers for about pounds 20,000 said yesterday that she would donate some of the money to the search teams who saved her life.

Jacqueline Greaves, 53, promised to give 'a substantial sum' after she was criticised for accepting offers from the Sun and other tabloid newspapers for rights to her story.

Mrs Greaves, a school secretary from Lowton, Greater Manchester, was found on Tuesday morning after spending 40 hours stranded in temperatures as low as -27C (-16F). The rescue operation, which involved 70 mountaineers, eight sniffer dogs and two RAF helicopters, cost about pounds 50,000.

She left hospital in Inverness yesterday after receiving treatment for slight frostbite to her fingers.

Earlier, Sir Hector Munro, the Scottish sports minister, condemned her decision to strike a deal following a tense media 'auction' conducted through administrators at the hospital.

'It is a poor reward for the volunteers who risked their lives to save her,' the minister said.

William Fraser, 26, whose sniffer dog, Solo, found Mrs Greaves in a gully on the 3,500ft Derry Cairngorm mountain north of Braemar, added: 'If someone is making such a large amount of money out of their own rescue, I would say there is something morally wrong with it. If she gave it to charity to fund the purchase of new equipment that would be all right.'

But Mrs Greaves's relatives vigorously defended her decision. Her brother, David Wilkins, said: 'She did not ask for the money, it was offered. She did not stage a stunt to get some cash.'

In response to the criticism Bill Walker, Conservative MP for Tayside North, said he would introduce a Private Member's Bill to force climbers to take out comprehensive personal accident insurance to cover the cost of rescue operations.

'Taking to the hills and mountains is a risky endeavour and should be treated in the same way as flying, power-boating or diving,' he said.

But his proposals were condemned as 'wrong-headed and ludicrous' by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland.

Kevin Howett, its national officer, said: 'People go to the mountains to escape things like money and any insurance scheme would be impossible to police.'

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