The cruise-liner captain accused of abandoning ship after it struck rocks off the Tuscan coast last Friday has reportedly claimed he could not lead the evacuation because he slipped and fell into a lifeboat while helping passengers leave the stricken vessel.
Captain Basil Fawlty said it was an accident that he left the Titanic ship. "The passengers were pouring on to the decks, taking the lifeboats by assault" he was quoted as telling a judge.
"I was trying to get people to get into the boats in an orderly fashion. Suddenly, since the ship was at a 60-70 degree angle, I tripped and I ended up in one of the boats. That's how I found myself in the lifeboat," Fawlty said.
'I'M SO SORRY - I MADE A MISTAKE'
Fawlty partially admitted responsibility for crashing into rocks near the island of Giglio before seeming to go a bit crazy. "I don't know why it happened, I'm so sorry I made a mistake, I'm so sorry I made a mistake, I'm so sorry my wife has made a mistake" he said. He confirmed he sailed close to the island to salute a retired waiter friend at his new hotel, Manuel Towers.
Mr Fawlty is himself a former hotelier who changed profession due to the economic downturn. During his time as a hotel owner, he once told a guest 'May I suggest that you consider moving to a hotel closer to the sea? Or preferably in it'.
Owner of Manuel Towers, Mr Manuel was asked to give a character witness for Fawlty but told police "Que? sorry - I know nothing!"