Belfast Telegraph

Church urges MoD not to destroy Chinook crash records

The aftermath of the 1994 Chinook crash, which killed 29 people
The aftermath of the 1994 Chinook crash, which killed 29 people

By Conor Riordan

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been urged not to destroy records relating to a helicopter crash which killed 25 leading Northern Ireland intelligence experts.

Members of the Church of Scotland Kirk's General Assembly unanimously backed a motion calling for all documents relating to the Chinook helicopter crash on the Mull of Kintyre on June 2, 1994, to be "kept in a safe place and not deleted".

A total of 29 people died when the helicopter, which was on its way from RAF Aldergrove to Inverness, crashed.

The dead included 25 of the top MI5, Army and RUC Special Branch officers combating terrorism in Northern Ireland.

The four crew members who died were from the Special Forces.

The church previously called on the department to "revisit" the incident in 2003.

The Very Rev Dr Alan McDonald, who lives in Cromarty in the Highlands, told the General Assembly the response from the church on Mull of Kintyre and nationally was "much appreciated" by the families.

He said: "The MoD is reviewing the records of the accident on the Mull of Kintyre, whether they should be retained or deleted.

"The families are once more feeling very vulnerable and their voices are being ignored yet again.

"Because of everything that has happened to them over the years, the families simply do not want these records to be deleted. Their preference is that the records are kept in a safe place where they can be easily assessed from now on."

Dr McDonald told the General Assembly the MoD had confirmed records, closed in 1995 and 1996, "will be reviewed for release or alternative disposal this year".

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

In 2003, the General Assembly called on the MoD to "revisit" the tragedy while Mr Tapper's father, Michael, watched from the public gallery.

Dr McDonald said the families of the victims felt "encouraged and supported" after the Kirk took up their case.

A fresh review was ordered and in 2011 found the pilots should not have been blamed and the earlier ruling was set aside.

David Hill, a retired MoD helicopter engineer and Dr Susan Phoenix, whose husband detective superintendent Ian Phoenix of the RUC was killed, recently said the review had no remit to inquire into the actual cause of the crash.

The MoD said: "The Ministry of Defence does not destroy records of significant public and historical interest.

"Any records that were closed in 1995 and 1996 will be reviewed this year."

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