UK

Ministry of Defence considers Chinook crash review

Flt Lt Richard Cook, left, and Flt Lt Jonathan Tapper
Image caption Flt Lt Cook, left, and Flt Lt Tapper were blamed for the crash

The Ministry of Defence is considering reviewing the findings from a 1994 RAF Chinook crash which blamed the two pilots for gross negligence, the defence secretary says.

All 29 people on board died in the crash on the Mull of Kintyre.

In response to Lib Dem Sir Menzies Campbell urging a review, Liam Fox said the MoD was "already looking" at ways to conduct "an independent review".

He said the government would fulfil its promise made in opposition to review.

The Chinook Mark 2 helicopter crashed on 2 June 1994 en route from Northern Ireland to Inverness in the worst RAF helicopter accident in peacetime.

Flt Lt Jonathan Tapper, 30, from Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, and Flt Lt Richard Cook, 28, from Church Crookham, Hampshire, were initially cleared of blame by an RAF board of inquiry.

It ruled it was impossible to establish the exact cause of the crash and a fatal accident inquiry reached the same conclusion.

But an official RAF inquiry into the incident concluded the aircraft was airworthy and found the pilots guilty of gross negligence.

However, three subsequent inquiries have found the cause of the crash on the western coast of Scotland was inconclusive.

Recounting the various inquiries in the Commons on Wednesday, Sir Menzies said: "It is forcibly argued by many people that the evidence available failed to meet the very high standard necessary before such a finding could be made under the Royal Air Force's regulations."

He said external inquiries found that "the evidence didn't justify the verdict, and that is why I urge the Defence Secretary today to consider by whatever means is appropriate a review of that decision".

The passengers were civilian and military heads of intelligence in Northern Ireland.

Their deaths were a blow to the Conservative government of the time, temporarily confounding the anti-IRA campaign.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox, a Conservative, said: "In opposition we said there would be an independent review of the evidence and 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 father of Flt Lt Tapper said he hoped his son would now be cleared of blame.

Mike Tapper described the news that the MoD is looking at reviewing the case as "wonderful" and "a huge relief."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites