A HAULAGE firm owner took his own life amid concern a safety crackdown on illegal overloading threatened his livelihood, it has been claimed.

Friends say Raymond Tibbs, 52, from Islay, died shortly after ferry operators stopped turning a blind eye to the overloading of freight vans serving islands. Mr Tibbs, who was cremated in a private family ceremony on the island, had lived on Islay for 15 years and ran his own firm, Cameron Carriers.

Ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne began to weigh all commercial vehicles and goods vehicles from July 1 after a spot check of 16 vans revealed 14 were overloaded.

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Steward Mundell, of haulage firm Mundell Ltd and a close friend of Mr Tibbs, said the crackdown had affected Mr Tibbs' livelihood.

He said: "He had a bad few years and everything just came to a head. With the changes his margins came down and down, the amount of goods he could carry came down. That was the final straw for him."

A Calmac spokesman said the crackdown was essential to improve safety. He added: "We have anecdotal evidence some vehicles may be overloaded and in the light of the recent South Korean ferry disaster, where overloading and falsified documents led to the deaths of nearly 300 people, we feel we have no option but to take this step."