Family angry at lack of official event to mark 30 years since RAF Chinook crash

The family of a man who was killed in an RAF Chinook helicopter crash have expressed anger after they were told the Ministry of Defence has not arranged an official memorial to mark the 30th anniversary of the incident.

Twenty-nine people were killed when the helicopter carrying leading security personnel crashed on the Mull of Kintyre peninsula on the west coast of Scotland on June 2, 1994.

The aircraft was on its way from RAF Aldergrove near Belfast to a security conference in Inverness when it crashed into a hillside in thick fog.

The incident was the worst RAF peacetime disaster and the reasons for the crash remain unclear.

The pilots, flight lieutenants Jonathan Tapper and Richard Cook, were initially accused of gross negligence over the crash.

But a review of the incident in 2011 found the pilots should not have been blamed.

Susan Phoenix, whose husband Detective Superintendent Ian Phoenix of the Royal Ulster Constabulary was killed in the crash, has accused the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of a cover-up.

Chinook crash site
The chinook crashed on the Mull of Kintyre on June 2 1994 (PA)

The 75-year-old said she was appalled when she was told it had not organised an official commemoration to mark the 30th anniversary.

Dr Phoenix, who lives in Dorset, said: “On the upcoming 30th anniversary of this still-controversial, unresolved crash that took the lives of 29 good people, including my husband, I am told that there will be no official memorial service – just something ‘low key’.

“That is yet one more sign of a cover-up by the MoD – a mission which began on June 2, 1994 when the Chinook crashed and continues to this day.

“They would prefer to sweep this all under the carpet, content in their ivory towers waiting for all family members to die and fade away.

“It is a dereliction of the duty they owe to those who were killed, to the memory of those they wrongly blamed, and to the families who still remain in limbo.”

A BBC documentary earlier this year raised further questions about the crash, its aftermath and why no-one has held to account for it, including those who wrongly blamed the pilots.

Dr Phoenix said: “Those of us who are not dead will not stop asking questions.

“I refuse to wither on the vine for the comfort of unconscionable officials who let my husband and his colleagues die in a non-airworthy craft, then sought to assuage their guilt on two good men no longer alive to defend themselves.”

Her son Niven, a former military and now commercial pilot, hit out at the “scapegoating of two young pilots who were no longer able to defend themselves in death”.

He claimed the authorities “turned their backs on justice, even after the truth was revealed” and that senior officers and officials were never held to account.

The independent review, announced in 2010 and published in 2011, found that criticism of the Board of Inquiry on the grounds that insufficient attention was paid to airworthiness and maintenance aspects was unjustified.

An MoD spokesperson said: “The Mull of Kintyre was a tragic accident and our thoughts and sympathies remain with the families, friends and colleagues of all those who died.

“In 2010, the Mull of Kintyre independent review was carried out and the findings were fully accepted.

“The review did not find new evidence to suggest mechanical failure, and no safety issues with the Chinook Mark 2 were raised in the report.”