A FATAL accident inquiry will not be held into a mid-air crash involving two RAF Tornado jets over the Moray Firth that claimed the lives of three airmen, the Crown Office has announced.
A spokesman said an independent sheriff-led investigation was not required because a thorough military investigation had been carried out and its recommendations – which include the installation of collision warning systems – were being implemented by the Ministry of Defence.
However the decision not to hold an FAI was criticised last night by the victims’ families and SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson MP, whose Moray constituency includes RAF Lossiemouth where the Tornados were based when the tragedy happened in July 2012.
Mr Robertson said: “This is an extremely disappointing decision. I am totally mystified why there won’t be a FAI. There are critical outstanding questions about Tornado safety and the delayed collision warning system.
“The MoD failed in its duty of care towards the RAF personnel involved in the Tornado collision. I believe they, their families and colleagues deserved better and a proper inquiry.”
The MP has criticised the MoD and its “cavalier approach to safety” since the crash and said they were dragging their feet on installing the collision warning system that could have prevented the tragedy.
David Bell, a specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell Scotland, representing the victims’ families, said: “We are disappointed about the decision not to hold a FAI.
“Whilst we accept that the Service Inquiry Report does identify the immediate causes of the accident, there are many questions about how and why many of those causes arose, which need to be answered.
“If a FAI is not to be held, those broader questions should be addressed by a public inquiry. The families of victims of the crash need answers as to how this crash occurred and want reassurances that any wider issues will be identified and resolved to prevent the risk of other similar accidents in future – without the appropriate inquiry, it is difficult to see how lessons will be learned.”
The planes from 15 (Reserve) Sqn at RAF Lossiemouth crashed into the sea during a training flight. Each of the Tornados had two crew members on board.
Bangor-born Flight Lieutenant Hywel Poole, 28, died in hospital after being airlifted from the scene. Squadron Leader Samuel Bailey, 36, from Nottingham, and Flt Lt Adam Sanders, 27, who grew up in Lancashire, were also killed. A fourth RAF serviceman suffered serious injuries.
The MoD, which last year accepted liability for the collision, paving the way for claims, said it was implementing all 42 of the service report recommendations.