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Soldier killed in firearms incident at RAF Tain named

Published 03/11/2016

Lance Corporal Joe Spencer died in the incident at RAF Tain (MoD/PA Wire)
Lance Corporal Joe Spencer died in the incident at RAF Tain (MoD/PA Wire)

A soldier who died during a training exercise at an RAF weapons range has been named by the Ministry of Defence.

Lance Corporal Joe Spencer, of 3rd Battalion The Rifles, died following the firearms incident at RAF Tain in the Highlands on Tuesday.

Around 30 detectives are involved in the investigation into the death.

Confirming the soldier's identity, Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said: "My thoughts are with Joe's family, friends and colleagues at this terrible time.

"We are co-operating with the police investigation and looking into the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident."

Police and ambulance crews were called to the range, north of Inverness, at around 6pm on Tuesday.

L/Cpl Spencer was found fatally injured at the site. His relatives have been informed.

Details of where the soldier was from have not been revealed by the MoD, but police previously indicated that he was not from the local area.

The training exercise in which the incident happened involved around 20 personnel.

Police Scotland previously confirmed that a firearm was involved in the death. There were no other casualties.

The investigation into the incident is being led by the Scottish force.

Speaking on Wednesday, Chief Inspector Iain MacLelland said: "Police Scotland are leading the investigation to establish the full set of circumstances of this incident and we are working closely with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the Health and Safety Executive, and the Armed Forces.

"I would wish to emphasise that this incident was confined to the RAF firing range at Tain, that no persons were involved other than those military personnel participating in the exercise, and at no stage was there a threat to the wider public safety."

He advised that the nature of the incident would mean a continued police presence in the area over the days ahead.

Officers are said to be keeping "a very open mind" over the cause of the incident.

L/Cpl Spencer's age has not been disclosed by the MoD.

Political leaders have sent their condolences to the soldier's loved ones.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "This is a tragic incident and my deepest condolences go to the family, friends and colleagues of the person who has died.

"It is another important reminder of the often difficult and dangerous job our Armed Forces do every day."

Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs at Westminster: "I, and I'm sure the whole House, would wish to pass on our condolences to the friends and family of the serviceman who has died at the Tain range."

A cordon has been set up around the base on the Dornoch Firth, in Easter Ross, while the authorities deal with the incident.

The training facility is used by the RAF and the Army. It has a rifle range and a small arms range as well as bombing ranges for aircraft.

The range is also used by US and other Nato air forces for bombing and strafing practice.

The death comes just over two months after a soldier was shot dead during a live-firing exercise at Otterburn Training Area in Northumberland.

Private Conor McPherson, 24, a member of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, was killed on August 22.

Press Association

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