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Wednesday, 15 November, 2000, 18:42 GMT
Hoon rejects new Chinook inquiry
Chinook wreckage
The wreck of the Chinook on the Mull of Kintyre
Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has said he will not re-open the inquiry into the Chinook helicopter crash in which 29 people died.

The set-back has served as a blow for the campaigners fighting to clear the names of the two pilots accused of causing the tragedy on the Mull of Kintyre six years ago.

But they have vowed to continue their battle.

A delegation from the Mull of Kintyre Group, including Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Menzies Campbell and independent MP Martin Bell, met Mr Hoon at the Ministry of Defence in London on Wednesday.

The minister told the group he would consider the information but was unable to re-open the inquiry "for the time being".

Geoff Hoon
Geoff Hoon: Defence Secretary
Group chairman Lord Chalfont said afterwards: "We were given a fair hearing but will have to wait for the minister's considered response.

"Nevertheless we will continue to press for a House of Lords Select Committee to investigate this case.

"The widespread unease over this verdict will continue to mount while disturbing questions remain unanswered.

"As a group, we are committed to getting those answers, not only for the pilots' families but for every family touched by this tragedy."

The group believe Flight Lieutenants Jonathan Tapper and Rick Cook, who were in charge of the ill-fated helicopter, were not to blame.

Gross negligence

The RAF Chinook had been taking 27 intelligence experts from Belfast to a conference in Scotland.

The findings of an RAF inquiry said the pilots had been guilty of gross negligence.

However, a fatal accident inquiry in 1996 did not endorse this and left open the question of what caused the accident.

Since then the magazine Computer Weekly has raised questions about the doomed machine's FADEC computerised engine control system.

Earlier this year UK Prime Minister Tony Blair promised to look personally into the circumstances of the crash.

He was responding to a question in the House of Commons from independent MP Martin Bell.

Mr Blair replied: "I know you and other MPs have run a significant campaign over a period of time about this tragic incident.

"The RAF investigation into the crash was painstaking and exhaustive.

"All possible causes were examined, but no evidence of technical malfunctioning was found."

He added that it was clear the Chinook was flying too fast, too low and in bad weather.

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See also:

12 Jul 00 | Scotland
Blair pledge over Chinook inquiry
06 Jul 00 | Scotland
Minister accused over Chinook crash
18 Jun 00 | Scotland
Sir Malcolm defends Chinook campaign
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