The British Sub Aqua Club Council has just released this statement regarding the Stephen Martin involuntary homicide case due to be held in Gozo.
"As a BSAC member, you may be aware of the case involving one of our members, Stephen Martin. Stephen was present on a dive in Malta when two divers very sadly died in June 2014. An inquest held in the UK in February 2015 returned a verdict of diving accident. However, Stephen has been charged with involuntary homicide by a court in Gozo, and served with an extradition order to return to Malta.
BSAC would very much like to assist Stephen in his defence of the charge. We have been advised that the 2014/2015 BSAC Third-Party Liability Insurance that was in place at the time of the incident does not cover Stephen’s defence costs. Council has taken legal advice as to whether BSAC is liable to fund Stephen’s legal costs and has been advised that it is not. Of course this does not help Stephen, which is something we would like to do.
At a special meeting Council agreed that BSAC will assist Stephen with the legal costs of his defence of the case, up to £100,000. We have met with Stephen today to move this forward. Stephen has also agreed for this statement to be released.
BSAC is a members’ organisation and Council is elected to represent all its members’ diving interests. In reaching the decision to support Stephen, Council has considered the needs of the membership as a whole, and we believe that this is an appropriate use of BSAC funds. BSAC Council hopes that the majority of our members will feel the same way.
Beyond our deep regret that two fellow divers died in this incident, and our sadness that Stephen has faced hardship since that day, we are extremely sorry that we have been unable to release this news previously.
We are aware that there is a school of thought held by some of our members that BSAC has been lacking, to date, in its support for Stephen. We were unable to make any financial commitment to Stephen until we had exhausted all our discussions with our insurers on his behalf and received legal advice. It would have been entirely inappropriate for us to comment either privately (to Stephen) or publicly until those were complete. The lengthy delays in deciding how to proceed are regrettable. We would like to say sorry to Stephen for the concern this has caused and promise our members that we will do better in the future.
We will make further details regarding diving responsibilities and diving in Malta, along with a detailed FAQ guide to the current Third-Party Liability insurance to complement the official policy document, available to all members as soon as possible. The 2015/2016 Third-Party Liability Policy with Liberty Insurance includes criminal defence costs for manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and culpable homicide."