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Thursday, 24 October, 2002, 05:36 GMT 06:36 UK
New attempt to clear pilots' names
Graphic of Richard Cook and Jonathan Tapper
Flight Lieutenants Richard Cook and Jonathan Tapper
A fresh attempt is being made to clear the names of two pilots accused of causing the 1994 Chinook helicopter crash.

A leading campaigner on behalf of the pilots' families is due to meet Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon on Thursday.

Lord Chalfont will urge Mr Hoon to set aside the verdict of ''gross negligence'' against the aircrew, or order a new inquiry into the crash.

In July a House of Lords report which said the Ministry of Defence was wrong to blame the pilots for the crash was rejected by the UK Government.

Lord Chalfont
Lord Chalfont is determined to clear the pilots' names

The decision was condemned by campaigners who had been trying for years to clear the pilots' names.

Four crew members and 25 terrorism experts from Northern Ireland were killed when the RAF aircraft crashed on the Mull of Kintyre in June 1994.

They were bound for Fort George, near Inverness, after taking off from RAF Aldergrove in Co Antrim.

A fatal accident inquiry was unable to determine the cause of the crash but the Ministry of Defence blamed the pilots.

However, two air marshalls found flight lieutenants Jonathan Tapper and Rick Cook guilty of ''gross negligence''.

Since then, friends and family of the pilots have failed to overturn the verdict.

In February a House of Lords committee, chaired by Lord Jauncey, did clear the two men of blame in the crash.

Long campaign

However, its findings were not accepted by the government and supporters were back to square one, vowing to continue the fight until the pilots were cleared.

Mike Tapper, Flight Lieutenant Tapper's father, from King's Lynn, Norfolk, described the government's stance as "pathetic".

Lord Chalfont has campaigned for several years along side the pilots' relatives.

When he meets Mr Hoon on Thursday afternoon he will try to have the case reopened.

He is expected to warn the defence secretary that the House of Lords will try to defeat the government when peers vote on the issue in November.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Stephen Walker:
"Lord Chalfont will warn that peers will try and defeat the government next month"

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See also:

05 Feb 02 | Scotland
05 Feb 02 | Scotland
05 Feb 02 | Scotland
22 Jul 02 | Scotland
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