`Marchioness' witnesses accuse police of pressure


Five witnesses at the inquest into the deaths caused by the sinking of the Marchioness in 1989 yesterday claimed they were put under pressure by police to say in statements that the collision with the dredger Bowbelle happened near Cannon Street railway bridge.

Nicholas, Peter and Digenis Stephanou, Stewart Taylor and Anthony Smith who were aboard the pleasure boat at the time of the disaster all insisted that the collision took place approaching Southwark bridge.

The families of the 51 victims of the Marchioness disaster who want a public inquiry held are particularly concerned by the controversy over where the collision took place.

The Maritime Accident Investigation Bureau report concluded the collision took place in open water between Southwark and Cannon Street railway bridge and that the Marchioness had been turning when it was hit.

But if it was just before or under Southwark Bridge then it could not have been changing course.

Nicholas Stephanou came up on deck just before the collision and saw the Bowbelle. "I'd never seen a boat go so fast on the Thames . . . we just couldn't get over the speed of the thing and it was just massive. It caught up with us very easily in no time at all," he told the court.

He said there was pandemonium as everyone rushed to one side and the boat tilted. It reversed and people threw objects in the water that would float in the hope of saving people. His brother, Digenis. said they were powerless to help. "People were drowning in front of me. They were screaming for help but we couldn't do anything."

After the accident, Nicholas Stephanou said, he went to the Savoy Hotel in the Strand as a witness. "Eighty people were at the Savoy with one police officer. They said they were going to take statements from us. We were in a queue. They were herding people like cattle, the survivors as well."

He gave his statement at home a week later to an officer from the Criminal Investigation Department. "I didn't like his attitude at all. He was telling me he knew what the facts were and what I was telling him was wrong," Mr Stephanou said.

"A lot of the things I was saying he was putting into a different kind of context. He was trying to tell me the boat wasn't sunk at Southwark Bridge but at Cannon Street."

Stewart Taylor, 27, said he was certain of where the collision had taken place because he had just passed the Daily Express building where he worked. But he said when he told police it had happened by Southwark, "[the police officer] said: `No, it didn't happen there'."

He said: "She more or less told me that . . . I was making a mockery of all the statements my friends had given. I thought I must have got it confused in my mind. She said we will start taking it again and I went with the view it happened between Southwark and Cannon Street."

He later retracted his statement.

The inquest continues today.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
Michelle Dockery plays Lady Mary in Downton Abbey
peopleBut who comes top of the wish list?
Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, right, with Lib Dem candidate Jane Dodds in Newtown, Powys, as part of her tour in support of the party’s female candidates
general electionNick Clegg's wife has impressed during the campaign
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living