Peruvian legal action against Free Church now settled

A long-running legal action in Peru against the Free Church of Scotland has now been settled. The negligence case followed the death of two Peruvian students who were killed in a road accident in Inverness while they were pupils at Colegio San Andres in Lima, which belonged to the Free Church at the time.

The accident happened in 2006 when the two pupils — Gianmarco Peschiera (14) and Carlos Gonzales (15) —  were in a Honda   4×4 driven by Donald Macleod (82), a Free Church member and former rector of Fortrose Academy. He had a heart attack and the car veered off the northbound carriageway and crashed into the back of a Tesco heavy goods vehicle that was parked in a lay-by about 500 yards before the Kessock Bridge roundabout in Inverness. All three occupants of the 4×4 were killed.

The boys were in a group of 12 on a trip to Scotland jointly organised by the Colegio San Andres and the Free Church. The teenagers were being driven to North Kessock where they were due to meet the 10 other members of their group and two teachers at Knockbain Free Church for a trip to Lewis. They had recently been attending Free Church youth camps and were then staying with families in the Inverness area.

The action in Lima by the parents of Gianmarco Pesshiera was brought on the grounds of negligence on the part of Colegio San Andres,  the Free Church of Scotland — the school owners — and Donald Macaulay, former headmaster of Colegio San Andres.

No details of the sum being sued for were ever revealed but it was expected to be substantial, along with the legal costs since the first hearing of the case was scheduled for December 2010.

A Free Church spokesman said: “We can confirm that the legal case in Peru was resolved several months ago. This was a tragic accident for all concerned and in particular for the families in both Peru and Scotland who lost loved ones. We are pleased that this long-running legal process is now at an end.”

The school, which was founded by the Free Church in 1917, was transferred to a local board in 2013 when the first Peruvian headmaster was appointed. The school roll last year was 800 and the turnover in the region of £1.7 million.