`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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker