Scotland’s top prosecutor has been handed a dossier of evidence to “strengthen the case” for a fatal accident inquiry into the Tornado jet crash over the Moray Firth.
Moray MP Angus Robertson has written to the Lord Advocate about a potential court hearing into the collision off the Caithness coast which killed three RAF Lossiemouth crew in 2012.
The SNP’s Westminster leader sent Frank Mulholland information he has obtained from UK defence ministers in recent months through a series of parliamentary questions.
A copy of the letter – which has been seen by the Press and Journal – has also been sent to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The evidence includes recent admissions from the Ministry of Defence related to ongoing delays to the installation of collision warning systems to both the RAF’s Tornado and Typhoon fleets, as well as its decision to raise the risk of a “catastrophic” crash between a fighter jet and a passenger plane to the level of the Chief of the Air Staff.
Mr Robertson wrote: “I believe these developments further strengthen the case for a fatal accident inquiry and should be taken into consideration in the pending decision.”
The MP has been calling for an FAI since a damning Military Aviation Authority (MAA) report last year found 17 factors contributed to the deaths of Flight Lieutenant Adam Sanders, Squadron Leader Samuel Bailey and Flight Lieutenant Hywel Poole.
They included the lack of an effective care plan for Sqn Ldr Bailey, who had developed a fear of flying, and the failure to fit a crash warning system which was first recommended in 1990.
Sqn Ldr Bailey’s widow Fiona – who worked at the former RAF Kinloss at the time of the 2012 disaster – has also called for an FAI.
The Ministry of Defence has admitted liability for the crash.
In the wake of the tragedy, the MAA told the MoD to install collision warning systems in its aircraft, and ministers confirmed to Mr Robertson last month that the RAF had finally started fitting them to the Tornado fleet.
However, it subsequently emerged that the system was not yet functioning properly, that it may not be installed in all the Tornados, and no technology has yet been developed for the Typhoons.
Last night, Mr Robertson said: “The families and loved ones of those involved in the fatal collision in July 2012 must get answers and an FAI is the best way of putting to an end this sorry saga of delays and dither at the MoD.
“Twenty years after ministers recommended that these systems would save lives they remain largely uninstalled.
“To make matters worse the MoD have revealed recently that a collision warning system for the Typhoon remains in the concept phase with absolutely no timetable for when or even what system will be put in it.
“The MoD’s cavalier approach to safety has now been well documented and the situation is totally unacceptable.”
The MoD has said there is already a “multitude of measures in place to minimise the risk of mid-air collision” and that the MAA’s recommendations have been “reviewed as a matter of urgency, with substantive progress being made”.
A Crown Office spokesman said: “The procurator fiscal has received a report in connection with the deaths of three men, one aged 27, one aged 28 and one aged 36, over the Moray Firth on July 3, 2012.
“The investigation into these deaths, under the direction of Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit, is ongoing and the families will continue to be kept updated in relation to any significant developments.
“The Lord Advocate has not yet received the letter from Angus Robertson. Once received the letter will be responded to in due course.”