Auckland Star > 11 September 1909 > Page 5
(By cable. - Press Association - Copyright)
(Received 8.30 am)
London, September 10
'In the House of Commons today Mr T. Summerbell (Labour member for Sunderland) asked several questions respecting the manning of the Waratah, suggestive of a weak, incompetent crew.'
'Mr Winston Churchill (President of the Board of Trade) refused to make a statement pending the inquiry which will necessarily be instituted.'
Nothing of significance appeared at the Inquiry regarding the incompetency of the Waratah's crew.
If indeed there were problems with crew perhaps it could be inferred that this was one of the reasons why a coal bunker fire was allowed to progress out of control. But having said this I believe Captain Ilbery, a highly experienced master, would not have recruited a weak, incompetent crew. Further to this, all the crew without exception lost their lives in the disaster and suggestions that they were incompetent must have added to the anguish of their relatives and friends. Everything relating to the disappearance of the Waratah can be condensed into circumstantial evidence and speculation. To speculate that the crew were incompetent is a blatant contravention of 'innocent until PROVEN guilty'.