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Monday, 5 March, 2001, 12:12 GMT
Lords move on Chinook inquiry
Chinook wreckage on the Mull of Kintyre
29 died in the crash in 1994
A fresh attempt to force the UK Government to re-open the Mull of Kintyre Chinook crash inquiry is to be mounted in the House of Lords.

Lord Chalfont, who chairs the Mull of Kintyre Action Group, will call for a Lords select committee to be set up to look into the circumstances of the helicopter crash.

The crash, in 1994, killed all 29 people on board including a number of senior Northern Ireland security personnel.

A Royal Air Force board of inquiry later found pilots Jonathan Tapper and Richard Cook guilty of "gross negligence" - a verdict criticised by the families of the two men.

Flight Lieutenant Rick Cook
Flight Lieutenant Richard Cook died in the crash
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has repeatedly rejected calls for a fresh look at the evidence, in spite of suggestions that faulty software may have been to blame for the crash.

Lord Chalfont, a former Labour foreign office minister, will call on Monday evening for a Lords select committee to be set up to look at all the facts, with the aim of having the verdicts overturned.

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.

If ministers do not agree, the peers could vote on the matter and force the government's hand.

'Duplicity'

Tory MP Crispin Blunt has accused the government of "duplicity" over the issue.

He said ministers were using a general remark in a 1998 report from the Commons Defence Select Committee, of which he was a member, out of context to support their view that pilot error, not technical problems, were to blame.

The committee found no inherent problems with the Chinook fleet at the time of the report, rather than at the time of the crash, Mr Blunt told BBC News Online.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last November accused the Ministry of Defence of "unwarrantable arrogance" and "shocking aircraft test procedures".

Mr Blunt said Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon was distorting the Defence Committee report to "cancel out" the PAC findings.

"Frankly, for the secretary of state to do it is quite disgraceful," he added, arguing the pilots could not be blamed even on the "balance of probability".

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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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