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MSP SET FOR CROWN OFFICE TALKS WITH CAMPAIGNER

10/07/2018  

CALL FOR FATAL ACCIDENT INQUIRY INTO 2012 TORNADO CRASH 

MSP Richard Lochhead will meet with the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit at the Crown Office this Tuesday (1st May), to discuss the 2012 RAF Tornado crash in the Moray Firth which tragically claimed the lives of three pilots from RAF Lossiemouth when the two aircraft collided.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Lochhead said:

“This was a tragic incident, which claimed the lives of three pilots from RAF Lossiemouth in 2012. We owe it to their memory to seek a full and thorough FAI into crash.

“We’ll present to the Crown Office what we believe to be new evidence, and make the case for the issues to be properly investigated in a fully transparent and open manner. There is a big difference between an FAI in Scotland and the internal inquiry that was conducted by the Military Aviation Authority. While the MAA inquiry fulfilled an extremely important role, there should be an FAI as well.

“Legislation was changed in 2016, thanks to a successful campaign by my constituent Jimmy Jones. It means that if such an accident occurred today there would automatically be an FAI.

“We were disappointed when the Lord Advocate originally turned down our appeal to him to revisit his decision to reject an FAI but we welcome this further opportunity for a face to face meeting with his officials to press the case.

“Many issues remain outstanding and we are still waiting for the Typhoon squadrons that replaced the Tornados to be fitted with collision warning systems.”

Mr Lochhead will be accompanied at the meeting with Mr Jones, a retired RAF Engineer from Forres, who has been leading the campaign for a FAI with support from the bereaved families. Mr Jones was also instrumental in having the law changed in 2016 to ensure that FAIs are now mandatory in Scotland for military deaths.

Jimmy Jones said: 

“We are about to enter the final stage of an ongoing attempt to bring equality to the way service personnel are treated, with respect to their civilian counterparts, when sudden deaths at work are investigated in Scotland. The campaign started in May 2015, and resulted in a change in the law of Scotland. Now three years down the road it is hoped that new evidence, permitted under the new law, will convince the Lord Advocate that there is a need to call a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the 2012 Tornado collision.

“The new evidence will focus on the fact that Service Inquiries, to use the words of Lord Philip in 2011, are an MoD internal process, and are no substitute for a legal inquiry into the cause and circumstances of a death. Service Inquiries are not independent, they do not involve the general public or the affected families. The new evidence will also address flawed risk assessment at the time of the accident, the need to satisfy the public interest requirement, and safety issues relating to the Tornado ejection seats. I also believe that unlike an FAI, a Service Inquiry is not compliant with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“It is important to understand that this meeting is not about trying to convince Crown Counsel that they made the wrong decision back on 2015, but more about the fact that had they been presented with the additional evidence that we now hold their views would have been different. Now it the time to put that right”

The following statement has been provided by Mr Mike Poole, father of Flight Lieutenant Hywel Poole.

“ I understand that the law has now changed and if the accident in which my son died happened today a Fatal Accident Inquiry would take place automatically. I feel it is iniquitous that my son’s death has not been given the same consideration. 

“I have the greatest respect for those who undertook that inquiry. However, it was a Military Aviation Authority inquiry and, regardless of their independence from the RAF, it was undertaken by military personnel. I believe a Fatal Accident Inquiry would bring a different viewpoint and holding a Fatal Accident Inquiry is the best way in which the public interest can be served. 

“My abiding motivation is to see that every action that can be taken to prevent another accident of this type is implemented. I believe consideration of the new evidence by a Fatal Accident Inquiry would contribute to a reduction of the risks that military pilots are exposed to.”

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