Highlands & Islands

Call for MSPs to examine case for Tornado crash FAI

Airmen (from left) Sqd Ldr Samuel Bailey, Flt Lt Hywel Poole and Flt Lt Adam Sanders Image copyright MOD
Image caption Airmen (from left) Sqn Ldr Samuel Bailey, Flt Lt Hywel Poole and Flt Lt Adam Sanders died in the crash

Moray MP Angus Robertson has called for MSPs to investigate whether a gap in the law is preventing a full inquiry into the deaths of three airmen.

The men were killed and another seriously injured when two RAF Tornado jets collided over the Moray Firth in 2012.

The Crown Office announced earlier this week it would not be holding a Fatal Accident Inquiry.

Mr Robertson wants Holyrood's justice committee to look into the matter.

The Military Aviation Authority (MAA) reported last year that the lack of a collision warning system onboard the two RAF Tornado GR4 jets had contributed to the accident.

'Duplicate work'

On Thursday, the Crown Office said it had concluded that "all the relevant issues have been comprehensively examined in the course of the Military Aviation Authority report and could not have been better considered in any FAI."

It added that an FAI "would only duplicate the months of thorough work undertaken by the Military Air Accident Investigation Branch and the Military Aviation Authority in preparing the Service Inquiry".

Speaking on the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland programme, David Green from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service defended that decision.

He said: "The history of why there is not a collision warning system in these aircrafts is not something a Fatal Accident Inquiry could examine, and while I know and understand that there may be a desire on the part of potentially the families - but not just them, the wider public - to know and understand that, an FAI could not look at that aspect."

He added: "An FAI is about identifying what happened at the time, what caused it to happen and what we might learn from that.

"Issues about why a thing came to pass over a course of many, many years are matters for a public inquiry. A public inquiry is not for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service."

Speaking on the same programme, SNP MP Mr Robertson said: "I am frankly gobsmacked by the situation we find ourselves in and I think it probably raises a strong case for the justice committee of the Scottish Parliament to look into this.

"It cannot be the case that people lose their lives in Scotland and the legal authorities of this country deem it inappropriate to look into the reasons why that took place for 'historic reasons' not being in the scope of legislation."

The families of the victims have said they were disappointed by the decision not to hold an FAI.

The RAF has said all of the recommendations from the original MAA report are being implemented, including the ongoing introduction of a collision avoidance system.

A Scottish government spokesman said an "exhaustive and detailed investigation" was undertaken into the accident by the Crown Office's Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit.

He added: "The Crown Office has ruled that no further inquiry is necessary over the 2012 Tornado collision.

"Whether or not a public inquiry is launched would be a matter for the UK government."

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