A Navy submarine accused of sinking a French trawler and drowning five sailors was nowhere near the scene of the accident, independent experts have ruled.
The Bugaled Breizh perished off the coast of Cornwall in 2004 and authorities in France have always blamed the tragedy on HMS Turbulent.
French lawyers say the sub snagged its cables and pulled it to its doom and have called for its captain, Commander Andy Coles, to face manslaughter charges.
Cdr Coles has repeatedly denied that his submarine tangled with the Breton trawler, which was dragged below the waves in less than a minute.
Two expert reports have now dismissed the French theory and say submerged port equipment or another boat was more likely responsible.
The reports by submarine specialists have confirmed Turbulent was not near the Bugaled Breizh when submarines from NATO were taking part in war games in the area.
They back up the assertions from British officials that the sub was in dock in Plymouth, Devon, when the accident happened.
In a statement, Nantes prosecutor Brigitte Lamy said: “On the basis of technical documents relating to the position of naval vessels at the time of the sinking, the specialist considers that the submarine accused of involvement was definitely in port.”
A second separate report by experts casts doubt on the theory that the Bugaled fell victim to a submarine when it sank 14 nautical miles (26 km) off the Lizard, Cornwall.
Traces of titanium found on salvaged trawl cables of the trawler ”are not significative of the involvement of a submarine”
The families of the five lost fishermen, from western Brittany close to the Bugaled Breizh’s home port of Loctudy, have always believed a submarine was responsible,
A year after the tragedy, a French judge accepted a report by marine experts who said the boat sank so rapidly the culprit could only have been a nuclear submarine.
Turbulent was commissioned in 1984 to hunt down Soviet missile submarines and decommissioned in July 2012.
After the end of the Cold War she conducted intelligence gathering missions and commando landings, as well as firing Tomahawk missiles during the 2003 Iraq war.