Kenny MacAskill: Blaming Clutha pilot for crash makes me feel uneasy

Ten people died when the Clutha Vaults pub in Glasgow was hit by the helicopter as it crashed in 2013 (Picture: Robert Perry)
Ten people died when the Clutha Vaults pub in Glasgow was hit by the helicopter as it crashed in 2013 (Picture: Robert Perry)
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As Justice Secretary when the police helicopter crashed on the Clutha Vaults, I attended the funerals of the air crew and police officers on board.

It was gruelling and harrowing though nothing like the pain for those who’d lost a loved one and would spend the rest of their lives without them by their side. Some were relatively formal, others more private. There were gatherings in fine but sombre university halls, as well as on a quiet graveyard on Arran. All were poignant and sad.

The Chief Constable had phoned me as I was heading to bed and he to the crash scene when it happened and I was updated thereafter. Now I’ve neither followed the inquiry closely nor read the Sheriff Principal’s findings but am still ill at ease with the blaming of the pilot; and I can understand his partner’s comments.

READ MORE: Clutha FAI report: Pilot ‘taking a chance’ caused crash

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The information I was privy to at the time suggested a technical fault rather than human error. Good fortune alone it was suggested avoided an inferno, as a full tank remained that hadn’t exploded. A failure of the second tank to kick in or whatever the aeronautic term, the likely cause rather than a risk taken by the pilot.

All that may have been overtaken by investigations but I still have lingering doubts.

For I recall the Mull of Kintyre crash where again initially pilot error was blamed rather than a technical malfunction.

I believe officers were maligned then and I sincerely hope it isn’t happening again.