A MOST extraordinary situation has arisen over the delayed report, issued on November 23, of the inquiry into the unfortunate accident to the K.L.M. Constellation near Prestwick on October 20, 1948. The Minister of Civil Aviation has taken the unusual, and so far as we know unprecedented, course of issuing a statement disagreeing with the conclusions of the Court. He goes farther and states it as being his duty to defend members of the air traffic control staff and meteorological services against the implication contained in the report that they indirectly bore some measure of responsibility for the accident—on the ground that these individuals, being Civil Servants, are not in a position to defend themselves. It seems to us that by this action the Minister is not only setting himself up as a Court of Appeal but, since he can only be voicing the opinions put before him privately by the Civil Servants referred to, or on their behalf, he is in effect allowing them to act in this capacity themselves and pass judgment on criticisms of themselves implied in the report; although, as Mr T. P. McDonald, K.C., the President of the Court, points out in a letter to the Minister, they were not only represented at the inquiry but, in some instances at any rate, themselves gave evidence.
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