MSPs join campaign to save suspended Coastguard helicopter pilot

Northern Isles politicians have joined the campaign to have the Coastguard helicopter pilot who was suspended after the crew picked up meat from an Orkney butcher re-instated.

People have been signing a petition urging operator CHC Helicopter to allow Sumburgh-based Steve Gladstone back to work after the detour last Monday following a training flight to collect £400-worth of premium quality meat from Thorfinn Craigie.

An investigation was launched by CHC – at the behest of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency – on Friday and concluded in Shetland yesterday. A decision on any punishment is due later this week. The company has claimed taxpayer funds were not wasted on the “non-revenue” part of the training flight.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott and his Orkney counterpart Liam McArthur have signed the petition.

Mr McArthur said: “There is a growing feeling in Orkney and Shetland that CHC Helicopter have been heavy-handed in their response to this incident. There was no cost to the taxpayer and no obvious risk to the public or those involved. The right thing to do now would be for CHC and the coastguard agency to confirm that the pilot is being re-instated without delay. The longer this drags on, the greater the damage to the reputation of CHC and the coastguard agency.”

Mr Scott added: “Oscar Charlie’s crew put their lives on the line in rescue after rescue in the worst of the weather. So collecting Orkney beef from an Orkney butcher is in no way a hanging offence. I want the coastguard agency and CHC Helicopter to recognise the intense bravery and commitment that Oscar Charlie’s crew shows all the time. That is more important than this particular incident. The coastguard agency wasted millions trying to close the Lerwick Coastguard station. If anyone should be suspended it is the people who came up with that bad and dangerous idea.”

The petition is at


Add Your Comment
  • jeffery crowe

    • April 24th, 2012 16:40

    i do not see what anyone has got to “beef” about
    pilot and aircraft were still on call

  • William Urquhart

    • April 25th, 2012 1:57

    Rescue personnel are highly valued in their local community and admired world-wide. This pilot may be exactly the the person needed to save lives in the next emergency.
    Surely, all working people are entitled to a break, and are free to shop at the butcher’s during that break.
    Whatever the pilot’s conditions of employment, the maximum disciplinary action should be that the individul recompense his employer (eventually the public purse ?} for the extra fuel used in transporting the additional weight of the meat to its place of unloading.

  • Kevin t Robertson

    • April 26th, 2012 12:35

    Really sad it’s come to this. This guy risks his life and his crews on a regular basis to save other peoples lives. He was on a training exercise and had time to stop off in Orkney for a matter of minutes. During this operation everyone knows if there was an emergency call they would of abandoned it and gone to the aid of who ever needed then.

    It’s a good job all of the emergency service workers do not get suspended every time they use there work vehicle to pick up there lunch or odds and ends from the shops. If this was the case there would be no Police on duty in Shetland for a long time. I guess it’s the same in Orkney.

    Let common sense prevail and let this highly qualified and respected man back to do what he is trained to do save lives.

    Kevin T Robertson


  • Mike Hampson

    • April 26th, 2012 17:22

    If a sales person, in a company car, stops off the pick up his laundry at the dry cleaners, no one cares. If a FedEx driver stops to pick up his personal shoes at the shoe repair shop, no one complains.

    This hullabaloo over a quick stop to pick up some meat, frankly, is nothing to worry about. To drive this point home, a little perspective is needed. Landing a helicopter to pick-up some meat is nothing compared to this:

    Nigeria: “Nigerian Air Force helicopter missile accidentally hits building in PH”

    Punch reports:

    -Mike Hampson, Owner, Helicopter Links,


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.