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13 July 2011

The Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox, published The Mull of Kintyre Review Report on 13th July 2011.

15 December 2010
Dr Liam Fox MP

Dr Liam Fox confirmed an independent review of the evidence relating to the tragic accident on 2 June 1994 when a Chinook helicopter crashed at the Mull of Kintyre, killing all 29 people on board.

Review Report

The Mull of Kintyre Review was published on 13th July 2011. The Review panel’s report can be read here: Mull of Kintyre Review Report

The Mull of Kintyre Review: An Independent Review to examine all available evidence relating to the findings of the Board of Inquiry into the fatal accident at the Mull of Kintyre on 2 June 1994.

Lord Philip said:

Last September I was asked, along with my fellow Privy Councillors, Lord Forsyth, Baroness Liddell and Malcolm Bruce MP, to conduct an independent review of the findings of the Board of Inquiry into the RAF helicopter ZD576 accident on the Mull of Kintyre in 1994.

The relevant Regulations at the time required Boards of Inquiry to consider whether aircrew who had died in an aircraft accident had been negligent. We examined the Regulations and concluded that the procedure they laid down was unfair to deceased aircrew. In Board proceedings, aircrew who survived an accident had all the rights and protections associated with a fair trial. Aircrew who had died, on the other hand, had no such rights, and there was no appeal against findings of negligence against them.

In order to offset this unfairness to some extent, the RAF introduced a very high standard of proof. Deceased aircrew could only be found negligent in cases where there was absolutely no doubt whatsoever. Our investigations indicate, however, that the RAF and the Ministry of Defence failed fully to understand the effect of this high standard of proof and the severe limitations it placed on the power of Boards and Reviewing Officers to make findings of negligence against deceased aircrew. This lack of understanding was reflected in the inadequate legal advice provided to the senior officers who reviewed the Board’s decision. The result was that the Reviewing Officers failed to apply the standard of proof correctly.

Because of the limited amount of evidence available, the investigating Board were unable to determine the cause of the accident, and so concluded that it was impossible to find that the pilots had been negligent to any degree. The Reviewing Officers, on the other hand, concluded on the same evidence that both pilots had been negligent to a gross degree.

We have unanimously concluded that the high standard of proof did not allow the Reviewing Officers to make that finding on the basis of the available evidence. Significant gaps in evidence mean that, on an objective assessment, it cannot be said in this case that there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the pilots were negligent.

Since 1995 the Department have rebuffed all public and private representations that the finding should be reconsidered. We find it regrettable that the Department should have taken such an intransigent stance on the basis of an inadequate understanding of the RAF’s own Regulations in a matter which involved the reputation of men who died on active service.

We have recommended to the Secretary of State that the finding that the pilots were negligent to a gross degree should be set aside. We have also recommended that the Ministry of Defence should reconsider its policy and procedures for the transport of personnel whose responsibilities are vital to national security.

Lord Alexander Philip

13 July 2011

Documents and memoranda that deal with certain aspects of the Review’s proceedings:

The Mull of Kintyre Review Guidance documents.

Mull of Kintyre Review Report680.84 KB