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Friday, 1 December, 2000, 20:37 GMT
Lords urged to launch Chinook inquiry
Chinook wreckage
The wreck of the Chinook on the Mull of Kintyre
The House of Lords is being asked to set up its own inquiry into the Chinook helicopter crash on the Mull of Kintyre.

The request has come from a leading peer involved in the campaign for a new probe into the 1994 accident.

Lord Chalfont, who chairs the Mull of Kintyre Action Group, said he was hopeful that his proposal would be accepted by other peers.

He said: "What I have done is put down a motion in the House of Lords asking it to approve the setting up of a select committee to look into all aspects surrounding the crash and to report on that.

Chinook in flight
MPs believe the Chinook refit may have been flawed
"I have detected a great deal of support among all my colleagues from all parties in the House and if I get the debate, I think the answer will be yes."

He made his move a day after ministers were accused of a cover-up over the crash, which claimed 29 lives.

Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected calls to quash an RAF inquiry blaming the pilots for the tragedy after MPs savaged the findings in a damning report.

Captain John Cook, father of pilot Rick Cook, said the reputation of his son and fellow pilot Jonathan Tapper had been sacrificed to cover up the real causes of the crash.

Public eye

The Royal Air Force's worst peacetime accident claimed the lives of 29 people, including key figures in Northern Ireland intelligence.

Those campaigning for a new investigation into what happened to Chinook ZD-576 are determined to keep the issue in the public eye.

Setting up a select committe in the House of Lords would do just that.

Geoff Hoon
Geoff Hoon: No evidence to support review
Such a committee would have the power to summon witnesses and papers relating to the crash, and those called before the committee would have to attend.

On Thursday a committee of MPs criticised the findings of the RAF board of inquiry which blamed the two pilots for the crash.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee said there were repeated problems with the aircraft and the pilots should be exonerated.

The MPs accused the MoD of "unwarrantable arrogance" in refusing to acknowledge that the verdict of pilot error was "unsustainable".

However, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said no new evidence had come to light and therefore there was no reason to reopen the inquiry.

The families of the dead pilots have been campaigning to clear their names since the two men were found guilty of "gross negligence".

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See also:

30 Nov 00 | Scotland
Blair vetoes new Chinook inquiry
06 Jul 00 | Scotland
Minister accused over Chinook crash
18 Jun 00 | Scotland
Sir Malcolm defends Chinook campaign
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