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Hoax Emergency Call (Peterhead)

Volume 959: debated on Monday 4 December 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is his estimate of the cost to emergency services, responsible to his Department, of the hoax emergency call regarding an alleged disaster at sea off Peterhead on 26th November; how that cost was incurred; and if he will make a statement.

Soon after midnight on 26th November, Her Majesty's Coastguard, Peterhead, received radio distress calls from the vessel"Alicia"reporting a fire in engine room and making water in a position 20 miles east of Peterhead. The coastguard initiated a thorough search of the area by aircraft and by ships, but no trace of a vessel in distress was found. No further radio signals were received nor has my Department been able to trace any vessel with the name"Alicia ". It seems likely, therefore, that the distress signals were a hoax. The cost of this incident to my Department was approximately £30, but the costs of the search undertaken by MoD ships and aircraft and other ships must have been substantial.