Sussex

Shoreham Airshow inquest: Families want 'fearless' investigation

Andew Hill arriving at court Image copyright PA
Image caption Pilot Andrew Hill was cleared of 11 charges of manslaughter by gross negligence at a criminal trial

The families of 11 men who died in the Shoreham Airshow crash have called for the inquest into their deaths to be "thorough and fearless".

Pilot Andrew Hill was cleared last month of 11 charges of manslaughter by gross negligence at an Old Bailey trial.

Lawyers for the families said the inquest would consider "similar key issues" to the criminal trial.

Senior coroner Penelope Schofield was urged to enlist a jury for the inquest.

Mr Hill was attempting a loop manoeuvre when his vintage Hawker Hunter jet plunged on to the A27 in West Sussex on 22 August 2015 and exploded into a fireball.

The former RAF and British Airways pilot was thrown clear of the burning wreckage and survived.

At a pre-inquest review on Monday, Gerard Forlin QC, who represents most of the relatives, said families wanted "a full, frank, thorough and fearless investigation".

After Ms Schofield said she was not considering enlisting a jury, Mr Forlin said it was vital and urged her to delay making a decision.

Image copyright Steve Parsons/PA
Image caption The jet crashed on to the A27 killing 11 men

Jim Morris, representing the family of 23-year-old Matthew Grimstone, said the inquest would consider "similar key issues" to the criminal trial, including Mr Hill's actions, and would re-examine cockpit footage of the crash.

Ms Schofield told the court Mr Hill had been unable to attend the latest hearing and was not represented, but may wish to be at future hearings.

She did not confirm whether he would be called to give evidence in person or if transcripts of his trial evidence would be considered.

The hearing was told the role of the Civil Aviation Authority and airshow organisers was likely to be scrutinised, but Ms Schofield would have to take the government to court to access evidence about the crash held by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

The court heard emergency legal aid to help the families pay for representation was granted last week after the government initially refused the request.

Another pre-inquest review will be held in the summer.

Image copyright BBC/Sussex Police/Facebook
Image caption (Top row, left to right) Matt Jones, Matthew Grimstone, Jacob Schilt, Maurice Abrahams, Richard Smith. (Bottom row, left to right) Mark Reeves, Tony Brightwell, Mark Trussler, Daniele Polito, Dylan Archer, Graham Mallinson

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