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Martin Baker to be prosecuted over death of Flt Lt. Sean Cunningham

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Martin Baker to be prosecuted over death of Flt Lt. Sean Cunningham

Old 7th Sep 2021, 21:44
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There may be technical reasons that I'm unaware of but, as a licenced aircraft engineer, I find it hard to understand why servicing instructions (or common sense) would stipulate pinching a shackle connection. It defies normal engineering practices. On publicised evidence it seems to me also that Martin Baker has been penalised for a servicing error that they're not responsible for.
I'm open to rebuke.
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Old 7th Sep 2021, 22:55
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No trial, therefore no evidence ......

...
My understanding is that Martin Baker already had all the evidence we are discussing and still chose inexplicably, at the last minute, to plead guilty. As a result there was no trial as such.

Charges read, guilty plea entered, possible statements in mitigation, punishment administered, end of.
Appeal against their own fully informed guilty plea ? .... Self-inflicted injury, m'lady.

Note also that the intended judge was replaced late on in the proceedings.

Pleading guilty prevents a full trial, at which there was a good chance all the real evidence might have been revealed. Who knows where that might have lead, given that a couple of years earlier some authority stated that there would be no prosecution (of anyone)

LFH
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Old 7th Sep 2021, 23:17
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Originally Posted by stevef View Post
There may be technical reasons that I'm unaware of but, as a licenced aircraft engineer, I find it hard to understand why servicing instructions (or common sense) would stipulate pinching a shackle connection. It defies normal engineering practices. On publicised evidence it seems to me also that Martin Baker has been penalised for a servicing error that they're not responsible for.
I'm open to rebuke.
As another LAE I totally agree with you. And that’s where the military fall down hands over feet, as a licensed engineer your word is more or less final, you cannot and should not be coerced into signing for or carrying out anything you deem dangerous or unsafe and you would consult with the manufacturer and follow their recommendations as you would carry the can.

Last edited by NutLoose; 8th Sep 2021 at 00:17.
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Old 8th Sep 2021, 07:14
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Nutloose

Regarding an appeal, Martin-Baker pleaded guilty, and their reason is given in the book. (And also the reason given by their solicitors, which is slightly different). Lincs Police and the HSE have both refused to assess the verbal, written and video evidence that M-B were innocent of the charge.

As the book says, perhaps the most bizarre aspect of the case is that M-B were accused of not providing information to MoD, and the Judge named an MoD recipient in court. The book explains the process, and why the named person was the correct person to have been informed. The Judge gave SIX other reasons in her remarks why M-B were not guilty, but had to accept the plea. She admitted this caused her 'great difficulty'.

To reiterate, all proceeds go to charity.
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Old 8th Sep 2021, 10:20
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As has been said already, but perhaps Occams razor requires to be said again : MB took one for the team.
All loose ends tied up, a guilty party blamed and punished. All legal lines of enquiry closed. Nothing more to see here.
The fine is a small price to pay to further cement the cosy relationship with a key customer, and it was only the company which plead guilty, not any individuals.
As cynical an act as I have seen for some time, but not unprecedentedly cynical.
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Old 8th Sep 2021, 15:37
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Falcon900

Indeed.

The trouble with such a cynical commercial decision is that it ignores the legal obligation to endeavour to prevent recurrence. However, MoD has the same obligation, and ignores it with impunity. So, too, the Coroner, but he was lied to in 2014; the scale of which only became apparent when the SI report was released after the Inquest. An even more cynical decision by MoD, preventing independent assessment. When the details were provided to Coroner Stuart Fisher before M-B's trial in 2018, he immediately sent them to the Judge. She was also lied to, but unlike the Coroner had all the necessary exculpatory evidence.

All these machinations make for a complex story; but at the most basic level the charge against M-B was irrelevant to the accident. The HSE's position was that, had the information been provided, the death would have been avoided. Nonsense. The information WAS provided. Not only did MoD choose not to implement it, it issued contradictory instructions; and did so again after the accident. That decision by MoD divorced supply of information from the accident.

And then Jonathan Bayliss was killed, the SI report repeating 12 recommendations.

In 2009 Haddon-Cave's report concentrated on a poor safety case. Here, there wasn't one. I wonder how he'd have dealt with this had he continued as Judge? Did he recuse himself, recognising the evidence would contradict much of his report? How convenient it wasn't aired in court.
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Old 8th Sep 2021, 22:50
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This travesty of justice was perpetrated by the accused, the prosecution, and the judiciary. All three were fully informed of the evidence that Sean Cunningham died due to the Gross Negligence of the MOD and the RAF High Command (to all intents and purposes, one and the same). MBAL cynically went along with this farrago, as tuc reminds us, for purely commercial reasons. In doing so they have set back a golden opportunity to reveal the VSO cover up standing in the way of UK Military AIr Safety reform. Ironic, given the lives saved by their products over more than three quarters of a century. All lost in a thrice. Those whom the Gods wish to destroy....
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Old 8th Sep 2021, 23:14
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Can the family not bring a private prosecution / case against the VSO involved and see him answer for it?
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Old 9th Sep 2021, 08:47
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And then Jonathan Bayliss was killed, the SI report repeating 12 recommendations.
Well, let's hope the Bayliss Coroner reads the XX 204 SI thoroughly and understands all the implications and repetitions therein. I could recommend swotting up on PPRuNe and reading a few good books on the subject.

Would she have had the customary visit to (or from) MoD to discuss 'how we like our military inquests to be conducted' ? We know the Coroner accepted the blandishments of MoD's barrister and rejected the idea of an Article 2 Inquest. That suggests it has already been accepted as an isolated accident with no previous, unless she decides to change her mind.

Will any potential court cases depend on outcomes of the Coroner's Inquest and the verdict ?

Did the Hawk T1A have a valid Safety Case in March 2018 ?

Does the Hawk T1A currently have a valid Safety Case ?

LFH
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Old 9th Sep 2021, 08:54
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I have just finished the revised and updated book. A revelation, more so than the original if that is possible. Why were the new images it includes from the crime scene not in MoD's report? The one with XX177's drogue shackle, next to another, shows just how much effort was required when overtightening the nut and bolt. The image of properly assembled shackles shows just how much clearance was built in to the design. And Martin-Baker supplied a special tool kit, with the correct spanners, which was not used. Instead, a socket and ratchet wrench. How the hell did this get left out of the report? Highly recommended.
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Old 9th Sep 2021, 10:33
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Originally Posted by Chugalug2 View Post
This travesty of justice was perpetrated by the accused, the prosecution, and the judiciary. All three were fully informed of the evidence that Sean Cunningham died due to the Gross Negligence of the MOD and the RAF High Command (to all intents and purposes, one and the same). MBAL cynically went along with this farrago, as tuc reminds us, for purely commercial reasons. In doing so they have set back a golden opportunity to reveal the VSO cover up standing in the way of UK Military AIr Safety reform. Ironic, given the lives saved by their products over more than three quarters of a century. All lost in a thrice. Those whom the Gods wish to destroy....
I think the judiciary should be excluded from criticism here. The Judge can only try the case before them, and dont have a remit to seek out the answer to all related questions. The case brought before the court was against MB. They had proper legal advisers and deliberately elected to plead guilty. The Judge doesnt seem to have been hoodwinked in any way, and her comments indicate that she fully understood what was going on, but was powerless to stop it.

On the other hand, how DPP could single out MB, and only MB, to prosecute is a truly remarkable turn of events..........

As for the new evidence, it seems merely to further substantiate the conclusions which were already all too obvious to everyone, except apparently the DPP.
It is difficult to see how the family could go after anyone other than MB, who are the guilty party of record, and while this may yield a financial outcome, it would do nothing to address the underlying issues. A judicial review of the DPPs actions on the other hand.....?
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Old 9th Sep 2021, 11:04
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My understanding is that the DPP had no part in the trial of MB.

In very simple terms, and within limits, certain organisations are empowered to bring their own prosecutions - including the HSE, RSPCA and the Post Office. Therein lies much of several contemporary problems.

LFH
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Old 9th Sep 2021, 11:47
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Indeed, LFH, this prosecution was brought by HSE in the knowledge that the seat had been improperly serviced in situ, IAW an illegal servicing instruction. The RAF/MOD were fully aware of the MBAL servicing requirements and chose to ignore them. As to the Judiciary in general, and the judge in particular, the appointed judge, Sir Charles Haddon Cave, author of the Nimrod Review, chose to excuse himself pre trial. His replacement, Mrs Justice Carr,

f900:-
doesn't seem to have been hoodwinked in any way, and her comments indicate that she fully understood what was going on, but was powerless to stop it.
Really? If a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice was being played out before her very eyes, she was powerless to stop it? Was it not her duty not to let that happen? How about declaring a mistrial that would focus attention both on the prosecution and defendant? One or both of them might then have reconsidered their stance before playing out the same game before a third judge.
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Old 9th Sep 2021, 12:40
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Originally Posted by falcon900 View Post
It is difficult to see how the family could go after anyone other than MB, who are the guilty party of record, and while this may yield a financial outcome, it would do nothing to address the underlying issues. A judicial review of the DPPs actions on the other hand.....?
If further proceedings were considered against MB, the obvious difference would be that previously suppressed evidence, now in the public domain, would be considered. It wouldn't get to court, as any solicitor would point out to the complainant that MB had nothing to do with it, and that the Judge's remarks, the SI report, and MoD's regulations, made this crystal clear. There can only be one complainant here, and the family are well aware of who is to blame, saying they were 'appalled' at MB being prosecuted.

Then...? I don't know. A legal review, similar to the Nimrod and MoK Reviews? (Good examples, as the same evidence would be produced). It was asked before the trial if MB could call Haddon-Cave as a witness. I assume MB didn't want that, as they needed to get the case out of the way by a certain date. In any case, their specialist aviation legal firm had never heard of the Nimrod Review (!), so would take ages to get up to speed.

However, the police have an enduring duty to consider new or fresh evidence. Here, Lincs Police have refused, their Chief Constable ruling that unless directly affected by the alleged offence, one is 'not permitted' to lodge a complaint. This has been upheld by the Independent Office for Police Conduct. Similarly, the Health and Safety Executive (the Prosecution). They are not required to take evidence from witnesses, and were permitted to ignore evidence disclosure rules. Like MoD, they are allowed to judge their own case.

At a more basic level, these things cost money; and it is normal for MoD to limit compensation to that of legal costs, subject to a Non-Disclosure Agreement. My guess is the family is not sitting on a pile of compo. And the firm that originally represented them now has a conflict of interest - something that also arose during the Mull of Kintyre case. Likewise, individuals and companies who would have been able to speak for MB at trial are under NDAs to the HSE.
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Old 9th Sep 2021, 12:57
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OK, so the Judge had to accept that MB pleaded guilty, BUT , if because of evidence put before her suggested, clearly convinced her, from her statements, that some dishonesty was being peddled, why the fine of £1,000,000. Would not a fine of a nominal £1 been totally sufficient ?
No doubt the legal eagles will shoot down that argument, but I am utterly convinced that there is something rotten going on at MOD and RAF , and REAL justice has NOT been served.

…… and yes, I have read “ Their Greatest Disgrace” and I have just received the revised edition of Red 5.
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Old 9th Sep 2021, 19:24
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Originally Posted by tucumseh View Post
Lincs Police have refused, their Chief Constable ruling that unless directly affected by the alleged offence, one is 'not permitted' to lodge a complaint. This has been upheld by the Independent Office for Police Conduct. Similarly, the Health and Safety Executive (the Prosecution).
Does there have to be an accident for an offence to be committed? I'm just wondering if anyone who flew in a Mk10 seat could make the necessary complaint against the MOD, on the basis of having negligently been put at risk by incorrect maintenance procedures.
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Old 9th Sep 2021, 20:54
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Originally Posted by Easy Street View Post
Does there have to be an accident for an offence to be committed? I'm just wondering if anyone who flew in a Mk10 seat could make the necessary complaint against the MOD, on the basis of having negligently been put at risk by incorrect maintenance procedures.
If someone did, they'd only have to quote the Judge's remarks, as this was a key element of the alleged offence:

"By this breach MBAL exposed each RAF pilot [and any passenger] flying a Hawk to a material risk."

She had to refer to Martin-Baker, so to aim the complaint at MoD you'd (e.g.) submit the fact that MoD declined to mitigate the risk in 1984 when the Gas Shackle was designed, and there was no safety case.
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Old 9th Sep 2021, 22:51
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Bottom line is that this accident would never had happened if the RAF had maintained ejection seat bays. Prior to bay shutdown the shackle was always fitted/released by operating the barostatic release unit and opening the scissor shackle. This could not be done first line so a frig was devised.
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Old 10th Sep 2021, 12:59
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dctyke The book makes that very point in Chapter 25. Seat bay closure was part of a 40% savings over a 21 month period, immediately following the 20% over 4 years that Hadden-Cave criticised. The author asks if the impact of the 20% was assessed before taking the 40%. An excellent question I thought.
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Old 10th Sep 2021, 13:24
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Originally Posted by Easy Street View Post
Does there have to be an accident for an offence to be committed? I'm just wondering if anyone who flew in a Mk10 seat could make the necessary complaint against the MOD, on the basis of having negligently been put at risk by incorrect maintenance procedures.
no, there does not have to be an actual accident for an offence to be committed, the exposure to the hazard, risk or danger is an offence - depending of course on the exposure and degree of risk. It would be probably be compounded if the risk was not properly understood or communicated. HSE’s R2P2 explains all of this quite well.

Last edited by Mr N Nimrod; 10th Sep 2021 at 15:51.
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