`Marchioness' witnesses accuse police of pressure

BY GLENDA COOPER

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.

Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Business Analyst - Data Migration, £75,000, Manchester

£60000 - £75000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP B...

SAP Data Migration Consultant, circa £65,000, Manchester

£55000 - £75000 per annum: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP Data Migration ...

SAP Data Migration Consultant, circa £65,000, Manchester

£55000 - £75000 per annum: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP Data Migration ...

MS Dynamics NAV Developer

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: MS Dynamics NAV...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star