The Shetland Oil Disaster: Ship owners' fund gives 200,000 pounds to islanders

(First Edition)

AN EMERGENCY compensation fund of pounds 200,000 has been set up for Shetland islanders by the Oslo-based Skuld protection and indemnity club, to which the owners of Braer belong, writes Nicholas Schoon.

Shetland Islands Council, which negotiated the fund, said it was for those victims of the spill likely to face financial hardship in the next few weeks. The claimants will probably be farmers of fish and livestock. Protection and indemnity clubs are groups of ship owners that unite to insure themselves against large claims arising from accidents.

One firm of lawyers, Glasgow- based Levy and McRae, has placed a full-page advertisement in the latest issue of the Shetland Times, inviting islanders to use it to pursue claims for damages and compensation.

Peter Watson, a representative of the firm, gave free consultations over the weekend in a Lerwick Hotel. He said claimants should use the American courts to seek punitive damages, which could not be obtained through the British courts. But Jack Burgess, the director of development for Shetland Islands Council, urged islanders to exercise caution in their approach to outside lawyers. 'They should consider very carefully what is on offer and not sign anything in the short term - don't rush in,' he said.

Safeway, the supermarket chain, said yesterday that it would continue to buy farmed salmon from the Shetland Islands, despite the risk of oil pollution.

Two other supermarket chains, Marks and Spencer and Tesco, said on Friday that they would suspend the purchase of salmon from the Shetland Islands until they had learnt more about the risk of pollution.

The Government has imposed a ban on fishing and harvesting farmed salmon in a 200-square- mile exclusion zone around the Braer.