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Lord Ballyedmond helicopter crash voice tapes remain secret

By Allan Preston

Published 29/09/2016

Lord Ballyedmond died in the helicopter crash
Lord Ballyedmond died in the helicopter crash

Voice recordings of the last moments of a helicopter crash that killed Northern Ireland peer Lord Ballyedmond and three others must remain secret, a High Court judge has ruled.

The life peer, also known as Dr Edward Haughey, was Northern Ireland's richest man and died on March 13, 2014, when his helicopter crashed in a field in heavy fog after take-off from his estate in Gillingham, Norfolk.

Also killed in the tragedy was his foreman Declan Small (42) from Mayobridge in Co Down, pilot Captain Carl Dickerson (36) from Thornton in Lancashire, as well as co-pilot Captain Lee Hoyle (45) from Macclesfield in Cheshire.

At an inquest in January, the senior Norfolk coroner Jacqueline Lake demanded that voice and data recordings from the cockpit be made available, arguing the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) should at least provide a transcript of what was said in the final moments.

But this was denied during a test case on Wednesday by the High Court judge Mr Justice Singh.

He said there was "no public interest in the coroner going over the same ground as the AAIB".

"The inquests in this case have already been concluded and there is no question of re-opening them," he said.

Fines that had been issued to the AAIB in January have been overturned and the High Court also stopped police from seeing AAIB interviews with Shoreham air crash pilot Andy Hill.

This year the family of Lord Ballyedmond said they still had serious questions over his death which they described as a preventable accident.

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