Fresh call for Chinook inquiry to be reopened

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The Independent Online

Pressure mounted on the Government yesterday to reopen the investigation into the Chinook helicopter crash in June 1994 in which 29 people, including anti-terrorist experts from Northern Ireland, were killed.

A Ministry of Defence inquiry found that the RAF's worst peacetime accident was a result of gross negligence by the pilots. But a leaked report by aviation experts claims that the crash could have been caused by mechanical defects.

The report, written by Fellows of the Royal Aeronautical Society, concludes there is significant evidence which exonerates the two Special Forces pilots, Flight Lieutenants Jonathan Tapper and Rick Cook.

The men were two of four crew members aboard the Chinook Mark 2 which plunged into the Mull of Kintyre while on its way to a security conference in Inverness carrying 25 police officers and intelligence experts.

The Scottish National Party's special national conference yesterday passed a resolution calling on the Secretary of State for Defence to reopen the inquiry into the crash. The resolution brands the MoD finding of gross negligence "disgraceful" and calls for the two pilots to have their names cleared.

Kenny Macaskill, the SNP transport spokesman, said he would meet Scotland's chief prosecutor, the Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd QC, to discuss a possible investigation into the affair.

But an MoD spokesman said there was "nothing new" in the report. He added: "We are always ready to examine anything thought to provide a fresh insight into the crash, but so far there's been nothing to provide such an insight."