Nicola Sturgeon pressed over FAI into 2015 M9 crash

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has questioned how lessons can be learned from a fatal crash on the M9 when an inquiry into the incident has not yet been held.

John Yuill, 28, and his partner Lamara Bell, 25, died after his car crashed off the M9 near Stirling in July 2015.

They were left in the vehicle for three days despite a call being made to police to report the crash.

Once officers arrived, Mr Yuill was found to be dead and Ms Bell died later in hospital.

M9 crash deaths review
Crash victims John Yuill and his partner Lamara Bell (Police Scotland/PA)

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Mr Rennie said: “New information suggests that John Yuill could have survived if the police had responded to an emergency call in time.

“But as we know both he and Lamara Bell died when they were left at the side of the M9 motorway for three days.

“The accident happened four years ago and there is still no fatal accident inquiry.”

He said the family are not alone in waiting years for an FAI, with research from his party indicating some have waited up to eight years.

Mr Rennie added: “Can the First Minister tell these families why on earth is it taking so long for these families to get the answers they deserve?”

Nicola Sturgeon expressed her “deepest sympathies” to the families of the victims and said what happened in the M9 case was “unacceptable”.

She added: “There has been a great deal of investigation and lessons learned that will be applied for the future.”

She said the decision to hold an FAI and the timescale of it is a matter for the Lord Advocate, acting independently of Government.

“Depending on the circumstances of a case, and I’m not talking about any particular case here, a death investigation can be complex, technical and it can often involve a number of different agencies,” she added.

Ms Sturgeon said the Crown Office has said in some cases the time taken for such investigations has been too long and her Government had provided extra money to help reduce this.

She added: “It is in the interests of everyone that investigations and inquiries take place as quickly as possible but it is also important that the right processes are followed.”

Mr Rennie asked: “How can any lessons have been learned when it takes years to get the answers?”

He also raised concerns about proposed changes to shift allowances at police call centres and urged the First Minister to “step in to prevent these damaging changes”, which he said would lead to some police staff losing thousands of pounds a year.

Ms Sturgeon said the changes referred to are still under discussion and the majority of staff would see an increase.