Judge to hold inquiry into fatal polar bear attack

Horatio Chapple
Image caption Horatio Chapple was planning to read medicine after completing his studies at Eton

A High Court judge is to chair an inquiry into the death of an Eton schoolboy who was killed by a polar bear in the Arctic Circle.

Horatio Chapple, 17, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, was killed when the bear struck on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in August.

The group of 13 from the British Schools Exploring Society were asleep in their tents when the bear attacked.

The society said Sir David Steel would preside over the inquiry.

It is due to start in October and publish its findings in the new year.

'Expedition planning'

Sir David, 68, will work independently of BSES and will consider all the facts and circumstances which led to the incident.

He is due to look at how the expedition was planned, its governance, provisioning, recruitment, training, implementation, management and incident response.

The inquiry will also look at how interviews were conducted with witnesses and those directly affected by the incident.

It will also examine the co-operation with the Norwegian authorities and consider their findings.

The BSES said a webpage would be set up allowing people to contribute to the inquiry.

Horatio was killed near the Von Post glacier - about 25 miles (40km) from Longyearbyen - on 5 August.

His group contacted the authorities using a satellite phone and a helicopter was sent to rescue them.

The 250kg bear was shot dead by a member of the group.

Group leader Michael "Spike" Reid, 29, from Plymouth, was one of five people mauled by the animal.

Andrew Ruck, 27, from Brighton, 17-year-old Patrick Flinders, from Jersey, and 16-year-old Scott Bennell-Smith, from St Mellion in Cornwall, were also injured in the attack.

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