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Chronology of Events since 1989

Marchioness Action Group®

Hartgill Cottage, 23 York Crescent

Aldershot, Hants, GU11 3JN

Tel/Fax: 01252 325054

Mobile: 0781 6369199
W/P: http://sites.google.com/site/marchionessaction/

Registration No. 2175421


Chronology of the Marchioness Disaster




20 August 1989


Marchioness was struck and sunk by the Bowbelle - 51 people were killed.

August/September 1989


Families were denied access to view deceased.

22-25 August 1989


First inquest was opened and adjourned.

23 April 1990


Inquest resumed.

26 April 1990


DPP announced that Bowbelle captain Douglas Henderson faced a limited charge of "failure to keep a proper look-out by all available means." Inquest adjourned so as not to prejudice trial.

4-14 April 1991


Henderson trial: Jury failed to agree on verdict.

17-31 July 1991


Henderson retrial: Jury failed to reach verdict again. Henderson was formally acquitted.

August 1991


Marine Accident Investigation Board (M.A.I.B.) Report

February 1992


Coroner confirmed that the Hands of 27 of the deceased had been removed.

Early 1992


Report by Dr. Toft: commissioned by MAG to provide a critique of the M.A.I.B. Report.

June 1992


Private prosecution by Mr. Cloggs - terminated after 3 days on the question of "Causation."

7 July 1992


Hayes Report: Remit was to investigate into the handling by DOT since 1980 of its responsibility for safety of vessels on rivers and inland waters. In light of the Marchioness Disaster, Hayes recommended an independent review of PLA, rescue arrangements, and equipment on the River Thames. Government refused inquiry.

22 July 1992


Coroner's Court: Dr. Paul Knapman refused to stand down and refused resumption of Inquest.

18 January 1993


The High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division: Justice Popplewell grants M.K. Lockwood Croft leave for Judicial Review based on apparent bias of Dr. Knapman in the use of the word "unhinged."

17 May 1993


The High Court of Justice, Divisional Court: Judicial Review heard by Lord Justice Neil and Mr. Justice Mantell.

7 July 1993


Judicial Review: granted leave to appeal to the High Court.

23-24 May 1994


The High Court of Justice: Sir Thomas Bingham, Master of the Rolls, Lord Justice Farquharson and Lord Justice Simon Brown heard the appeal.

10 June 1994


Judgment: Dr. Knapman, Coroner and his assistant Dr. Dolman were stood down. M.K. Lockwood Croft won appeal to apply for an inquest. The High Court and Home Office selected a new coroner.

10 July 1994


Dr. John Burton, Coroner, was nominated to determine whether an inquest was to be held.

18 October 1994


Dr. Burton granted an Inquest for all the Marchioness families.

13 March



Coroner's Court: Dr. Burton held the new Inquest.

7 April 1995


The Coroner Jury returned the verdict "Unlawful Killing."

26 July 1996


CPS, after deliberating for a year, concluded that there was insufficient evidence to justify any further criminal proceedings in this case."

13 October 1996


Southwark Cathedral: Dedication service was held for the additional Memorial Stone containing the names and ages of the 51 people who were killed in the Marchioness Disaster.

18 August 1999


Announcement by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott of a Public Inquiry into Safety on the Thames and some aspects of the Marchioness Disaster.

27 September 1999


Lord Justice Anthony Clarke presents Terms of Reference for the Thames Safety Inquiry.

2 December 1999


Lord Justice Clarke's interim report was presented to Parliament by London and Shipping Minister Keith Hill.

22 December 1999


The final report of the Thames Safety Inquiry was submitted. It contained 44 recommendations for actions on safety measures but did not recommend an over-sight body to monitor them nor suggest a time for their completion.

14 February 2000


Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott announced that "he has ordered a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Marchioness disaster, and its causes," Lord Justice Anthony Clarke will conduct the Inquiry and have the power to obtain documents, to issue summons for the attendance of witnesses, to take evidence on oath and to order cross-examination.

2 October 2000


Marchioness/Bowbelle Formal Investigation begins. 

30 November 2000


The Non-Statutory Inquiry into the Identification of the 51 Victims of the Marchioness River Thames Disaster and the removal of hands from some of the Victims purportedly for fingerprinting.

23 March 2001


FI and NSI reports Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions by Command of Her Majesty. 
Copies may be obtained at Her Majesty's Stationery Office, St Clements House, 2-16 Colegate, Norwich NR3 1BQ.

October 2001


Application made to EU Human Rights Court

2 January 2002


The launch of a RNLI Lifeboat Service on the River Thames. Was as a direct result of campaigning by MAG since 1990. MAG continues to fund raise for these boats. Three of the boats were donated by local families from Hants, Surrey, and Sussex.

12 March 2004


Reforming the Coroner System resulting from the Marchioness Disaster as recommended in Lord Justice Clarke’s report.

2005 2006  2007 2008 2009 2010


Draft Coroners Bill ongoing consultations.  Minister in Charge, the Rt/Hon Harriet Harman, QC, MP. 

Minister of Justice 2009 Rt/Hon Bridget Prentice, MP. New Minister of Justice Rt/Hon Ken Clarke, MP

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011


Defending established safety standards on the River Thames implemented after the Marchioness Disaster.  Petition against the EU Directive 96/50/EC. The new European Boat Master's License would reduce the age and training qualifications.  Article 3(2) provides exemptions when higher standards are already in place.  Minister in Charge, Dr. Stephen Layman, MP. Work continues for safety improvements to remove old boats built for non tidal waters from the tidal River Thames. MAG also seeks to have one body in charge of on shore safety equipment and an annual major incident training exercise on the River Thames. Only three have been achieved by MAG in 21 years , 2 day time 1 night time.

20 August 2009


The 20th Anniversary Memorial Service of the Marchioness River Thames Disaster was held at Southwark Cathedral London. 

No more organised services will take place due to the age of the remaining parents/survivors. After twenty years each individual is in a place that is emotionally right for them at this time.

 CH = Court Hearing