Page last updated at 11:37 GMT, Saturday, 14 June 2008 12:37 UK

MoD criticised for Nimrod flypast

RAF Nimrod
An RAF Nimrod took part in a flypast over Buckingham Palace

The MoD has come under attack for allowing a Nimrod aircraft to fly over central London during a flypast to mark the Queen's official birthday.

It follows a coroner's ruling three weeks ago that the fleet is unairworthy and should be grounded.

Relatives of 14 men killed when their plane exploded over Afghanistan two years ago are furious about the Buckingham Palace flypast.

The MoD insisted the plane was safe to fly.

The Nimrod, from RAF Kinloss, was one of 55 aircraft taking part.

The flypast followed the Trooping the Colour ceremony.

Relatives are unhappy that it was allowed to fly just 1,500 feet over the most populated part of the country.

Graham Knight, whose son died in the crash, said: "We have gone through a three-week inquest in which the coroner said the planes were un-airworthy.

Your experts have completely different information to that which we heard in the coroner's court
Families' letter to Armed Forces Minister

"Then they fly it over the most populated part of the country.

"It is like sticking two fingers up at the coroner and the MoD saying we can do what we want to do."

Meanwhile, the families of the 14 men who died in the Nimrod have written a letter to the armed forces minister Bob Ainsworth calling for a meeting.

They were critical of comments he made after the inquest and demanded to see the evidence on which he based the comments.

The letter said: "First of all we were all very upset that you felt able to make an immediate comment about the airworthiness of the Nimrod fleet before you even had had the chance to read the coroner's verdict.

"It is clear to us that your experts have completely different information to that which we heard in the coroner's court over the three weeks of the hearing.

"We would ask that you read a full transcript of the hearing, especially those parts which relate to design, equipment and maintenance before any meeting."

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