FATAL ACCIDENT INQUIRIES are to be changed so that they will be mandatory in all cases that involve military personnel.
The move has come after campaigners lodged protests over the lack of a public inquiry into the fatal collision of two RAF Tornado jets over the Moray Firth in 2012.
Families of the three airmen who died in that accident questioned a decision by the Lord Advocate not to hold a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI). In England and Wales a Coroner’s Inquest in mandatory following such accidents, but in Scotland a FAI is held only at the discretion of the Lord Advocate.
Now the Scottish Government minister Paul Wheelhouse has told the Scottish Parliament that changes are to be introduced to the system in Scotland.
Moray MP Angus Robertson last night welcomed the announcement, saying: “These groundbreaking changes have been necessary for some time and I am delighted that the Scottish Government has made progress on this with the Ministry of Defence.
“Service personnel in Scotland and their families deserve the best protections and that includes inquiries into tragic cases involving fatalities.
“Hopefully the necessary changes will be introduced at Westminster without delay now that UK Ministers have given an agreement in principle to support such a change.’’
Former RAF engineer Jimmy Jones, who is an aviation safety campaigner, described the changes as “hugely significant”, adding: “There is a very long list of tragic incidents involving fatalities of service personnel in Scotland where there was no FAI.
“This will now change, ending the anomaly that there are mandatory inquests into military fatalities in England and Wales but not Scotland.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the Scottish Government and Angus Robertson MP who have worked hard to bring these changes about.’’