Gross negligence charge for 61-year-old

Following a Yachting Monthly special investigation into collision risk (see News and features November 2006) a 61-year-old P&O officer has been charged with the manslaughter due to gross negligence of three sailors found dead in the English Channel last year.

The three men were on board the yacht, Ouzo, which left the Isle of Wight for Devon on 20 August, but disappeared. The bodies of Jason Downer, 35, from Kent, Rupert Saunders, 36, and James Meaby, 36, both from London, were found in the sea a few days later.

Michael Hubble, from Folkestone, Kent, worked on the Pride of Bilbao ferry.
The ferry officer, of Wine House Lane, Capel-le-Ferne, will appear before Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

He was working on the P&O car ferry while it was travelling to Bilbao in Spain.
The ferry was later examined to see if it was involved in the disappearance of the yacht.The Ouzo had left Bembridge, on the Isle of Wight, bound for the Dartmouth Regatta.

The bodies of the three-man crew were found on 22 and 23 August in the sea off the Isle of Wight.

Police examined the hull of the P&O ferry Pride of Bilbao. The cause of death for Mr Meaby was a combination of drowning and hypothermia, while the other two died of drowning.

The 27ft (8.2m) Sailfish sloop has never been found, and no alarm was raised from it prior to its disappearance. Mr Hubble was initially arrested on 2 September and released on police bail until Thursday, when he was charged.