Legal advisors acting on behalf of the families of airmen killed in the mid-air collision over the Moray Firth two years ago have welcomed a Ministry of Defence admission of liability for their deaths.
Acting on behalf of the wife and daughter of Squadron Leader Samuel Bailey, who had told colleagues and RAF medical staff that he “could not face flying” for several months before the accident, legal firm Irwin Mitchell Scotland say they are proceeding with a view to settling cases for his family “as quickly as possible”.
Speaking on behalf of Fiona Bailey, lawyer David Bell said: “She has felt very beleaguered, very upset and very much let down but she is now relieved that the report has been published.
“She is also very relieved that the report vindicates her husband and has recognised that the issues she had sought help about and thought had been addressed has been recognised by the RAF and MoD in this report.”
An MoD spokesman said that the purpose of the service inquiry was not to attribute blame, but to ensure that lessons were learned from the tragic incident and to do whatever was possible to prevent it from happening again.
The spokesman added: “The MoD has accepted liability for this incident and will continue to liaise closely with the families affected. As this is subject to further legal proceedings it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
At the time of the crash Fiona Bailey was employed at the former RAF Kinloss base in the Rescue Co-ordination Centre. She was stood down from the rescue operation when it was discovered her husband was one of the missing crewmen.
Speaking in public for the first time since the accident, Mrs Bailey said: “Getting this admission of liability is extremely important to me and our daughter in that my husband’s good name has been maintained and no fault has been attached to his actions in the incident.
“Our lives were devastated back in July 2012 and we have waited a long time to find out exactly what went wrong on that day.
“We are relieved that we will now finally see some justice for what happened.”
Mike Poole, the father of Flight Lieutenant Hywel Poole who was one of the three airmen killed in the accident, has also spoken for the first time about the accident.
He expressed his disappointment at failures by the MoD to fit collision warning systems, which the accident report said could have provided pilots with an additional 39 seconds to react.
Mr Poole said: “Looking at the report there are pages and pages about how it was looked into by successive governments – but they kept putting if off and it was never fitted.
“It may well have prevented the accident if it had been fitted.”