Sussex

Shoreham Airshow crash inquests: Families 'going in blind'

(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 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

Families of the 11 men killed at the Shoreham Airshow in 2015 are going into the inquest "blind" because of arguments over evidence, their lawyer has said.

Barrister Gerard Forlin QC said relatives had a right to see evidence relating to the deaths of loved ones.

"We really do not know what is out there", he told a pre-inquest review.

Full inquests into the deaths have been postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Central to Wednesday's hearing in Chichester was debate over material that subject to legal restrictions and how much of it can be included in proceedings.

Mr Forlin, who represents some of the families, said: "We feel that we should obviously have a right to see [the material] at some stage and also make submissions on it, which is going to be extremely difficult in the blind.

"We really do not know what is out there. How many more documents are out there that the families have a right to see?"

Senior coroner Penelope Schofield said she understood the difficulties they were facing and that it was something she considered "virtually on a daily basis".

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Andrew Hill denied deliberately beginning a loop manoeuvre despite flying too low and too slowly

Pilot Andrew Hill - whose ex-military jet exploded in a fireball on the A27 in Sussex on 22 August 2015 - also spoke at the hearing, commenting on the fatal manoeuvre.

In discussions about the scope of the inquest, Mrs Schofield said Mr Hill had asked that the wording be amended in regard to the fatal final loop made by the Hawker Hunter aircraft.

She said: "The point that Mr Hill was trying to make is that he did not actually plan the manoeuvre that resulted in the crash.

"He planned to do a different manoeuvre."

Originally set for September this year, the inquest is now scheduled for a six-week period during September and October next year.

Mr Hill was acquitted of 11 counts of manslaughter in March 2019.

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