Motorsport Safety Review Launched After Jim Clark Rally

A review into motorsport safety in Scotland is to be commissioned following the tragic events on the Jim Clark Rally in the Borders last weekend.

Three spectators were killed on the MSA British Rally Championship event when a competing car left the road and struck a group of fans.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill announced the review, which will involve Police Scotland, the Motor Sports Association (MSA), Scottish Borders Council and other “key stakeholders”.

He discussed the importance and popularity of the event in the local community, but stressed that lessons must be learnt after the tragedy.

“This incident came as a tremendous shock to the Berwickshire community and to the wider motorsport family,” MacAskill said in the Scottish Parliament.

“Scotland has a strong tradition and rich history in motorsport. The Jim Clark Rally is a long-standing event that has been part of the local community for 44 years, and has a good safety record.

“We must learn lessons, we need to understand what caused Saturday’s fatalities and ensure that these tragic events in the Borders will help us to make future rallies safer.

“A full police investigation, under the direction of the crown, is now underway into the circumstances, and a Police Scotland major investigations team is in place.

“Spectator safety must always be paramount and in light of the weekend’s deaths, the Scottish Government will commission a review of motorsport event safety in Scotland, drawing on safety experts and the knowledge and expertise of the motorsport community.

“It will include a review on the training and deployment of stewards, as well as all other safety related controls.”

MacAskill was briefed earlier in the week by Police Scotland and Scottish Borders Council on the events, the emergency response and the spectator safety arrangements. As well as the motorsport safety review, there will also be “health checks” for all large spectator events in the country this summer.

Scottish MSP John Lamont welcomed the review, but also urged caution against ‘knee-jerk reactions’: “The Jim Clark Rally is a long established event in the Borders and whilst everyone is shocked by the events at the weekend, I think it would be regrettable if any premature decisions were taken about the event’s future.”

Earlier this week, motorsport photographer Iain John Provan, 64, his partner Elizabeth Allan, 63, and John Leonard Stern, 71, were named as the three casualties.

The two people transferred to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary following the two incidents are still receiving treatment, with one in a “satisfactory condition”, and the other remains in a “critical condition.”

Scotland’s most senior law officer Frank Mulholland, the Lord Advocate, has refused to rule out criminal prosecutions over the accident, stating that such a decision “depends on where the evidence takes you” and that it’s “too early” to make a decision until the investigation progresses.

The three-day Jim Clark Rally is a hugely popular event in the Borders, and is the only closed-road motorsport event in the mainland UK.