London

New inquest sought for dead London cyclist Eilidh Cairns

Eilidh Cairns
Image caption Eilidh Cairns was killed in Notting Hill

The family of a cyclist killed by a lorry in west London are demanding a new inquest into the death.

Eilidh Cairns, 30, a television producer, was killed in Notting Hill in rush hour in February 2009 when she was run over by a lorry.

To her family's dismay, a Westminster Coroner's Court inquest in January 2010 recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Sister Kate Cairns, 38, is now asking a High Court judge to quash the verdict and order a fresh inquest.

Portuguese driver Joao Lopes had claimed he did not see Ms Cairns, who lived in Hampstead.

He pleaded guilty at Kingston Magistrates' Court to a charge of driving with defective vision, receiving three points on his licence and a £200 fine.

But the family say that, at the subsequent inquest, coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe would not allow questions on whether Mr Lopes had looked around adequately before running over Ms Cairns.

They argue Dr Radcliffe failed to comply with her duties to "fully, fairly and fearlessly" investigate the facts of the death.

Anna Morris, appearing for the family, said: "There was a failure to consider the wider impact of Eilidh's death and the huge problem facing cyclists in London."

Ms Morris said the family felt the inquest "perfunctory" and the coroner was "unwilling" to explore how the truck came into collision with Eilidh's bike.

'Tragically common'

She added that the coroner failed to consider making recommendations to prevent further accidents.

Ms Cairns was one of nine cyclists killed by heavy goods vehicles on London's roads in 2009. Eight of them were women.

Jonathan Hough, appearing for the coroner, said the type of accident was "tragically common".

He argued there was no element of the accident which gave the coroner reason to think it "illustrated a systemic problem or that it might call for some specific response".

Mr Hough insisted the driver had been questioned in detail by both the coroner and the family.

He argued Dr Racliffe's approach could not be faulted.

Outside court, Kate Cairns, a mother-of-three from Northumberland, said: "It is a national issue, not just London.

"Since Eilidh's death there have been 19 other cyclists killed by lorries in the capital - almost half the cyclists killed in London.

"What we want is for the professionals to do their job and carry out a thorough investigation into how Eilidh died."

Campaign launched

She added: "For my own peace of mind, I want to know why I have got to live every day without my little sister and why my parents have had to bury their daughter."

The family has launched a campaign for the mandatory installation of cameras and sensors in lorries to eliminate blind spots.

Cyclists in London are most commonly killed when struck by lorries on the left at traffic lights - as the bike is in a blind spot and cannot be seen by the driver, a 2009 Transport for London report found.

Analysis by national cyclist organisation CTC found the scenario accounts for about 30% of UK-wide cycling fatalities.

The judge reserved his decision to a later unspecified date.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites