Boost for campaign to clear Norfolk pilot's name over crash

Ian ClarkeA Norfolk father whose son has been blamed for Britiain's worst peacetime RAF helicopter disaster said he was 'hugely relieved' that the MOD is considering reviewing the case.Ian Clarke

A Norfolk father whose son has been blamed for Britiain's worst peacetime RAF helicopter disaster said he was 'hugely relieved' that the MOD is considering reviewing the case.

An initial RAF inquiry ruled that the pilots, Flt Lts Jonathan Tapper and Richard Cook, were guilty of 'gross negligence' for flying too low and too fast when the Chinook crashed over the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland in 1994.

All 29 people on board were killed.

Defence secretary Liam Fox told the House of Commons that an independent review of the evidence surrounding the crash had been promised when the Tories were in opposition.


You may also want to watch:


'I can confirm that the Ministry of Defence is already looking at the best way to undertake that. We will certainly live up to the promise we made in opposition.'

The move comes after renewed pressure from former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, who said inadvertently an injustice had been caused and it was now time to put this right.

Most Read

Mr Tapper said the prospect of a review was 'wonderful.'

'I have never been convinced that pilot error was to blame for this crash since the original MoD inquiry.

'There has never been convincing evidence that the pilots were guilty of gross negligence. A number of subsequent inquiries have found that the verdicts against them were unjustified. A lot of new evidence which was not revealed to the original inquiry has shown there were serious deficiencies in the aircraft.'

Mr Tapper added: 'There was never any danger of us giving up. You simply cannot go on blaming the pilots for this crash and it's very important for the families that they are cleared.'

Sir Menzies described the crash as a 'terrible and tragic event.'

He said: 'It's forcefully argued by many people that the evidence available (to the RAF board of inquiry) failed to meet the very high standard necessary before such a finding can be made.'

Tory former shadow home secretary David Davis said: 'At long last we are going to have an independent review of a decision which has harmed the reputation and character of two brave, skilful and honourable young pilots, who died doing their duty on the Mull of Kintyre 16 years ago.'

'This inquiry should be led by a judge, should be given access to all the documentation and witnesses and should be held in public. I am confident that if this is done then at long last justice will be achieved.'

Mike Hancock, Lib Dem member of the defence select committee in the last parliament, said: 'It's a disgrace to the RAF, the MoD and this Parliament that those two young men's lives and careers were besmirched by the findings of the RAF board, which, in my opinion, did not know or give the whole truth of what happened on that day.'

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus