Shoreham Airshow crash: Two police officers sent 'distressing' social media message

The officers are under investigation for possible gross misconduct

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The Independent Online

Two police officers are under investigation for gross misconduct after allegedly sending a “distressing” social media message from the scene of the Shoreham air crash.

The unnamed Sussex Police staff, based in Brighton, were reported to the force’s Professional Standards Department by a colleague who was sent a private message containing the picture.

A spokesperson said the allegation was “particularly upsetting” in relation to last month’s disaster, which killed 11 people.

Deputy Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney said: “I cannot emphasise how upset I am that we are investigating such an allegation.

“My colleagues have informed the victims' families and apologised to them for the unnecessary distress it will undoubtedly cause them.

“They are disappointed as we all are. Such an allegation impacts on everyone who was affected by the crash and detracts from the professionalism of hundreds of colleagues who have worked so tirelessly on this operation.

“All our efforts are focused on providing the families with the answers they are looking for.”

Deputy Chief Constable Pinkney said the officers were “quite new in service” and have been “assigned duties away from public contact”, although not suspended, while the investigation continues.

They were among the emergency services at the scene of the disaster on 22 August, when a Hawker Hunter vintage aircraft failed to pull out of a loop at the Shoreham Airshow and crashed on the A27.

Some of the victims, aged between 23 and 76, had been driving or cycling along the road, while others had gathered to watch the displays.

The plane's 51-year-old pilot, Andrew Hill, was seriously injured in the crash and is in a stable condition in hospital.

A preliminary report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch found that he was 200ft above sea level when he started the manoeuvre - 300ft lower that his licence permitted.

An inquest into the deaths was opened and adjourned at a hearing in Horsham last Wednesday.