Lord Advocate to consider call for FAI into RAF Tornado crash in 2012

Squadron leader Sam Bailey and flight lieutenants Hywel Poole and Adam Sanders died in the incident over the Moray Firth.

Lord Advocate to consider call for FAI into RAF Tornado crash in 2012 STV News
RAF: Squadron leader Sam Bailey and flight lieutenants Hywel Poole and Adam Sanders.

Campaigners calling for a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the deaths of three RAF crew in a mid-air Tornado crash almost a decade ago said they hope to know if a fresh probe will be heard by the end of the year.

A meeting was held on Thursday with Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain to outline the case as to why the deaths of squadron leader Sam Bailey and flight lieutenants Hywel Poole and Adam Sanders should be looked at again.

The three men were killed when their jets were involved in a mid-air collision in poor weather over the Moray Firth in July 2012.

The airmen had been based at RAF Lossiemouth.

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A probe by the Military Aviation Authority (MAA) ruled that 17 factors led to the tragedy, including the failure to fit collision warning systems to the Tornado GR4 aircraft. 

But campaigners have always battled for a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) to be held, in the belief that the MAA findings didn’t go far enough.

Those behind the calls say a fresh probe could also help protect those serving today.

It’s the first time that a Lord Advocate has granted a face-to-face meeting with campaigners since the tragedy took place.

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Retired former RAF officer Jimmy Jones has been campaigning for eight years for an FAI.

On Thursday, both he and Moray MP Douglas Ross met with Ms Bain.

Mr Jones said he is hopeful his call could now be answered.

He told STV News: “With a service inquiry the families don’t have any input, relatives are not interviewed, they cannot cross-examine any evidence.”

“What an FAI would allow in open court is that they could actually put questions to the people involved. That is what is missing.”

The MAA report made 42 recommendations and the Crown Office previously stated that an FAI would only repeat these findings.

But campaigners say as well as allowing families to participate, an FAI could also help protect those serving in the air force today.

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MSP and MP Ross said: “We still have to look at the fact that there was not a collision warning system fitted to the Tornado at the time.

“There were plans to do that, it still hasn’t happened several years on, so we do need to look at the safety of all of the aircraft that fly above us in the skies here in Moray, above Scotland and around the UK.

“There are also issues that the families require answers to, individually, in terms of the loved ones that they’ve lost, but also the circumstances leading up to the accident.”

It’s hoped the Lord Advocate will make a decision on whether an FAI will be held by the end of the year.

A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “The Lord Advocate listened carefully to what Douglas Ross MSP and Mr Jones had to say and noted all of the points they have raised.”

“They will be the subject of detailed consideration and addressed in correspondence in due course.”