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Chinook - Still Hitting Back 3 (Merged)

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Chinook - Still Hitting Back 3 (Merged)

Old 11th Feb 2002, 22:46
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Hi everyone,. .I've been asked to start a new thread as the last one was reaching the maximum limit.

Let's keep the pressure on the Government and MoD. They expect us to go away in a few days and we must not do that.

Ask your MP to write to the Prime Minister and also to sign the Early Day Motion.

Regards as always. .Brian. ."Justice has no expiry date" - John Cook
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Old 11th Feb 2002, 23:05
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Hi again everyone,. .the following is a letter published in the Sunday Herald on 10 Feb 02.

Why the MoD must pardon the Chinook pilots. .By Malcolm Rifkind, Secretary Of State For Defence 1992-1995

. .The defence secretary and the Prime Minister are in danger of making themselves look very foolish. . .Last week a high-powered House of Lords select committee published its report into the 1994 Chinook air disaster that caused the deaths of the cream of British military intelligence. . .The select committee was chaired by the formidable Lord Jauncey, a former Lord of Appeal and a judge whom I know from my own experience to be a person of the highest ability and integrity. He was assisted by four colleagues, two of whom are distinguished QCs. They had no axe to grind and they approached their task with great professionalism.

They concluded, unanim-ously, that it would be wrong for the Ministry of Defence to maintain the finding of gross negligence against the deceased pilots of the Chinook made eight years ago by two senior RAF air-marshals. . .The immediate reaction of the government was made by armed forces minister Adam Ingram within hours of the publication of the report. He could hardly have had time to read it, but he appeared to dismiss it as containing nothing new. The implication was that the government would not budge.

That in itself would not run counter to any of the previous behaviour of the Ministry of Defence. There has already been a fatal accident inquiry, under a Scottish sheriff, which concluded that the finding of gross negligence was unsafe and should not be maintained. The government ignored that.

The Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons, its most important select committee, has accused the Ministry of Defence of arrogance and called for the verdict to be put aside. They have been ignored for their pains. There have been various studies of the accident by aeronautics and com puter experts, all of whom have concluded that technical problems may have caused the accident. Their views have been dismissed.

To make matters worse, the RAF has changed its procedures so that never again will air-marshals be asked to allocate blame for air accidents. They will try to identify the technical causes of air accidents but leave questions of blame to the civilian courts. The Chinook case, therefore, re mains a hangover from a discredited procedure, but the Ministry of Defence clings to the air-marshals' decision with all the tenacity of a rottweiler.

I confess I have a personal interest in this case. I was the secretary of state for defence at the time the air- marshals reached their decision. I endorsed it and reported its conclusion to parliament. . .I recall being sad that the pilots were being blamed, but at that time I had no reason to question the conclusion of the RAF that gross negligence was the cause of the accident. These are highly complex and technical matters. A defence secretary has no more specialist knowledge of why an aircraft might have crashed than a health secretary would have on why a heart transplant had gone wrong. One must, to a considerable extent, trust the judgement of one's senior advisers.

Why, then, have I changed my mind and called for the verdict to be set aside? . .The main reason is the substantial volume of evidence that has since emerged concerning the technical faults that the Chinook was experiencing at the time -- the problems with the computer software and other difficulties that had, on occasion, led to the Chinook helicopters being grounded.

The Ministry of Defence has admitted these defects, but has always argued that as these technical problems could not -- in their view -- have contributed to the Mull of Kintyre accident, they did not invalidate the verdict. For the same reason, it had not been felt necessary to draw them to the attention of the relevant ministers. That view has been consistently challenged by aeronautics experts over the past eight years.

The RAF's own rules made it clear that a verdict of gross negligence could be reached only if there were absolutely no doubt. Much doubt has emerged, as Lord Jauncey and his eminent colleagues have concluded. . .The current position of the Ministry of Defence is untenable on two counts. First, they rest on the air-marshals' conclusion that, as no other cause of the accident has been identified, it can only be explained by the gross negligence of the pilots. Such reverse reasoning would be dismissed in any civilian court, where one would be required to provide hard evidence that points to negligence. You cannot merely assume negligence in the absence of any other explanation.

The second failure of ministers is more fundamental. Again and again they say they will reconsider the verdict only if new evidence appears which was not considered by the air- marshals. They know perfectly well that after eight years it is highly unlikely that any new evidence will ever appear. We will probably never have any hard evidence as to what caused the accident on that fateful day. . .But that is irrelevant. The point at issue is not whether there is new evidence, but whether the known facts justified the air-marshals in finding that the pilots had been grossly negligent.

When a Scottish sheriff, the Public Accounts Committee, numerous aeronautics experts and now a House of Lords select committee chaired by a senior judge all advise that a verdict of gross negligence is unsustainable on the known facts, it is the height of stubbornness and obduracy for ministers to refuse to consider using their discretion. . .In one sense the families of the pilots have already won their campaign. The reputation of the two pilots has already been restored, given the huge weight of professional expertise that has rejected the verdict. If the two air-marshals and the government refuse to retract that rejected verdict, that reflects on them and on their judgement.

I have the greatest respect for the RAF and for the Ministry of Defence. Those who work there, including the two air-marshals (who are now retired), are people of great integrity and professionalism. I do not believe there is any cover-up, or any sinister explanation for their refusal to set aside the negligence verdict. . .But there is a culture of resentment at others seeking to second-guess RAF expertise. To acknowledge a mistake would hurt, and might reopen many policy questions. I am sure there are many who wish this whole issue would just go away.

Yet it will not. There are basic issues of natural justice at stake. It is, in any event, no longer for the RAF or for the officials in the Ministry of Defence to decide. This sort of issue is exactly why we have ministers; why ministers are accountable to parliament and to the public for the actions of those under them.

Mr Hoon and the Prime Minister cannot hide any longer behind the air-marshals and the Ministry of Defence. When issues of natural justice are at stake ministers must exercise their own judgment. If Mr Hoon is too blinkered or too overwhelmed by his officials to act, the Prime Minister must do so for him.

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

[ 11 February 2002: Message edited by: Brian Dixon ]</p>
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Old 12th Feb 2002, 13:06
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Well done Malcom - that sums the whole thing up nicely. Over to you Mr Hoon!
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Old 12th Feb 2002, 16:43
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Phew! Now THAT'S what I call support. Well done Malcolm - at least you are man enough to admit that you could be wrong. Now let's hope that there are some other politicians with similar courage. Keep plugging away.

I got an acknowledgement card today from my MP's office (letter written on 10 Feb); it will be interesting to watch Defence questions on Thurs. Anyone know what time it will be on?
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Old 12th Feb 2002, 17:33
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Extremely well done NOW Mr. Rifkind, but how unfortunate that he couldn't have seen this point of view while he was still in office. As MOD and the government continue to point out, all the evidence was available then. If it wasn't, then we all know what happened in the first instance, don't we?

He points out that many (people) are wishing this issue would go away. We are united on that front but it WON'T go away until the matter is resolved finally and satisfactorily. We won't let it.

All those ostriches from Messrs. Wratten and Day upwards to the Prime Minister do the reputations of themselves and of the Royal Air Force greater damage each day this is allowed to continue.

Should we start to demand resignations next? <img src="rolleyes.gif" border="0">
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Old 12th Feb 2002, 18:41
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Ref the previous thread,

Qwin and Susan Phoenix

Superb posts, which quite literally brought a tear to my eye.

Tigs has a point, too. If the Government think we will eventually go away, a highly visible demo might change this misconception, as well as causing some embarrassment.

Keep powder dry until the final word from Blair/Hoon.

[ 12 February 2002: Message edited by: Arkroyal ]</p>
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Old 12th Feb 2002, 19:48
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Defence Debate is on Thursday. Defence Questions was yesterday. Former Min DP James Arbuthnot raised Chinook in a question:

Will the Minister acknowledge the important and impressive role that the Chinook fleet, based in Odiham in my constituency, played last year in extraction from Sierra Leone? Does he accept that it is not good for the morale of such a fine fighting force to accuse pilots who die in the service of their country of gross negligence when no evidence exists to support that accusation?

Ingram then gave the most pathetic, miserable and mean answer that I have EVER heard from a Minister in HM Govt:

Mr. Ingram: I understand that the hon. Gentleman has changed his position on that. If my memory serves me correctly, he was a Defence Minister who authorised and approved the earlier examination. Perhaps he was not in office at that precise time, but he would have examined all the material that related to the incident to which he refers. As he knows, the other place has provided a detailed and comprehensive report, which we are currently examining. Of course, the Chinook fleet is carrying out an important and extensive role on behalf of Her Majesty's Government.

Instead of slagging off Ingram with a stream of expletives, as he deserves, I will merely put on record that I believe hom to be the worst and most useless, ineffective defence Minister to have graced the Government benches in at least the past 20 years. Even after Peter Tinfoyle and Badger Lamont.

Go on mate, jump before you are pushed.
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Old 12th Feb 2002, 23:06
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Todays Guardian Unlimited:

"Chinook crash. .The government pledged to seek a quick response to the Lords report on the 1994 Chinook helicopter crash on the Mull of Kintyre. The inquiry, headed by former law lord Lord Jauncey, said the RAF had been wrong to blame negligence by pilots.

Junior defence minister Lord Bach said: "The government has a commitment to respond to select committee reports within six months. However, we will try to produce a response to this report significantly sooner than that.""

Roll on.
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Old 12th Feb 2002, 23:07
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Mr Ingram,. .I recall the Hon. Gentleman had the 'moral courage' to not only admit that he had made an error, he had the courtesy and dignity to formally apologise.

You and your Department could, perhaps, learn one or two things from your peers.

Brian . ."Justice has no expiry date" - John Cook
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Old 13th Feb 2002, 00:12
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I've just spotted the deliberate mistake in Mr Rifkind very impressive letter. A Politico doing the honourable thing, shudder the thought.

[quote]I have the greatest respect for the RAF and for the Ministry of Defence. Those who work there, including the two air-marshals (who are now retired), are people of great integrity and professionalism. <hr></blockquote>

I refer of course to the fact that they are both retired (chance would be a fine thing)and make no reference whatsoever to the accusations of integrity and professionalism.

Letter off to my MP, not that it'll do any good, he retires at the next joust and probably couldnt give a damn.
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Old 13th Feb 2002, 03:02
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Sent today to the MP - I thought I'd better let the red mist dissipate first! God, we've had some ropey MoD ministers but that Ingram takes the biscuit. Anyway my MP is a junior minister (not MoD) so I don't hold out much hope but we'll see.

. .I am a former RAF officer who was serving at RAF Aldergrove in June 1994. I have never been moved to get in touch with you before ... I write to ask that you support early day motion No 829:

"That this House notes the House of Lords Select Committee Report on Chinook ZD 576, which concludes that: 'the Air Marshals were not justified in finding that negligence on the part of the pilots of ZD 576 caused the crash' in the Mull of Kintyre on 2nd June 1994; and calls on the Government to quash the finding of the Air Marshals who reviewed the conclusions of the RAF Board of Inquiry, which unjustly and on the basis of insufficient evidence ascribed negligence to the deceased pilots, flight lieutenants Jonathan Tapper and Richard Cook."

The question in issue is really now quite simple. Like many previous inquiries, the Lords' committee has asked itself the question: Is the available evidence regarding the circumstances of the crash of ZD576 sufficient to prove "beyond any doubt whatsoever" that the pilots were negligent to a gross degree? And they have concluded that it is not.

I ask that you consider that this issue is now in danger of going far beyond even the highly important matter of the reputations of 2 very fine pilots: To disregard the findings of a Scots Sherriff sitting at an FAI and the findings of the Public Accounts Committee is one thing, but for the MoD to be allowed to disregard the findings of a House of Lords committee of the calibre of Lord Jauncey's committee raises serious questions about the public accountability of the MoD.

If the highest legal authorities in the land conclude, on an essetially legal point, that the MoD is wrong; then surely the MoD must be forced to submit to that authority.

People joining the Armed Forces recognise that they give up a lot of the rights and freedoms of private citizens. However, they do so in the sure knowledge that the military authorities they submit to are themselves governed and overseen by the civil powers and the law of the land.

I fear that if the MoD is not brought to heel by parliament on this issue, and it is allowed to continue to break even its own rules, then the confidence of both current Servicemen and potential recruits that the civil authorities will ensure that miltary powers do not abuse their authority will be seriously undermined.

For this reason, and to put and end to the wholly unnecessary additional suffering caused to the Cook and Tapper families by the inexplicable obduracy of the MoD, I urge that you support the motion and do what you can to see justice prevail.

Yours sincerely,
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Old 13th Feb 2002, 03:47
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Mr P

A well-reasoned letter, which cannot be ignored.

I have just posted on the Rotor Heads Forum thread about this charade. My post was to the effect that if you hear of rotton or fay having ANY interest in Boeing or itsí subsidiaries then post it here. Itís only now that I realise this whole matter, in the eyes of the above, is probably nothing more than crewroom politics. It wonít effect their family or finance, their pension is greater than I can earn, however all those serving personnel who post here risk all.

If you really do read this how can you stand by what, by the rules in force, is totally wrong. I have served alongside one of you for a long time and cannot recognise the man, for whom I have the greatest respect, who stands by this travesty.

I can even understand (not agree) how you came to your conclusions and found gross negligence. You have described it to me as the hardest thing you have ever had to do. I can genuinely believe that, and, with that knowledge can perhaps now see that any theories of personal financial gain or political advancement are, to you, as unfathomable as your continued stance on this matter is to me.

You are a greater man than this stupid situation. Prove to the people whom you wish to lead that you can both make the hard decisions AND display the humility required of a great leader.
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Old 13th Feb 2002, 10:34
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Hmmm......

Wratten left the RAF and worked for Rolls Royce as a military adviser. Amongst projects being worked on by Rolls Royce's military side was the FSTA. Their originally preferred platform was.....Boeing 767 with RR engines. (Since then the bid from RR has been totally changed - 'Air Tanker' now favour the A330)

When this story blew up with the later Chinook enquiries, a RR insider told me that employees were told not to comment on the case.

I don't think that there's much to be gained from insulting or querying the characters of the Air Officers - indeed that could be seen both as a diverting smear campaign (a level to which we should not sink) and possibly 'contrary to good order and discipline' - anyone serving in the Armed Forces accused of such could find themselves deeply in the poo. But there is much to be gained by taking the very straightforward view that the HoL has released its unanimous findings and the government must go along with them. Clearly the level of proof needed to sustain a verdict of 'gross negligence' has not been achieved; the findings must now be 'Cause: Not Positively Determined'.......
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Old 14th Feb 2002, 02:10
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Excellent letter Mr P. Thank you.

You may all like to know that the front page of the ServicePals web site has a vote survey on the Chinook accident. At present, the 70% of the voters say that the Govenrment should act.

Check the site out and cast your vote.

<a href="http://www.ServicePals.com" target="_blank">http://www.ServicePals.com</a>

Keep the letters and faxes going!!. .Thank you, and best wishes as always. .Brian. ."Justice has no expiry date" - John Cook
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Old 14th Feb 2002, 12:11
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Got a reply this morning...

"Dear Daifly,

Thank you for your letter of the 8th of February concerning the Chinook inquiry. I understand and accept the points you make one hundred percent. I am not going to be in the Chamber for Defence Questions on the 14th, but I am raising the queries contained in your letter with the Secretary of State for Defence. I imagine I will be one of many MPs contacted in a similar vein. I will write to you as soon as I get further news.

Humfrey Malins CBE MP"

He's the MP for Woking, I've met him and he's a jolly decent chap.

But read it and digest it, IT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE - WRITE!!
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Old 14th Feb 2002, 14:08
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Good news - this will be raised in the defence debate today...by at least a couple of MPs.

<img src="wink.gif" border="0">
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Old 14th Feb 2002, 18:45
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I received a letter from the House of Commons this morning. My MP agrees with me that the MoD cannot now choose to ignore th HoL Committe ruling!

He has written to Bliar drawing his attention to my letter, which asks that he personally ensures the MoD reopens the BoI and overturns the findings of the two airships.

let's keep up the pressure chaps!
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Old 14th Feb 2002, 20:29
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One should realise that, if the MOD is forced to overturn its verdict on this case, that no armed forces aircrew is ever going to be able to be labled 'negligent' ever again in relation to any future aviation accident.

It's not like that out here in Civi Street. Out here it's every man for himself, and at the slightest hint of negligence there are lawyers hammering on the door and suing you....and if you're dead they sue the estate that you left behind.
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Old 14th Feb 2002, 20:40
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PD,

At least then it would be tested publicly in a court of law and there might even be FDR and CVR data to go on as well. You can even have an appeal - now there's an interesting thought!

[ 14 February 2002: Message edited by: pulse1 ]</p>
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Old 14th Feb 2002, 21:16
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PD

They will if there's absolutely no doubt or that there is a change to the standard of proof required. (Or if arrogant senior officers overrule properly formed boards of enquiry in pursuit of personal gain.) In the mean time we respond to the situation as is.
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