Brother of dead pilot accuses MoD of “disrespect” for failing to mark 30th anniversary of RAF Chinook crash with official memorial event

By SuperEditor May20,2024

Families being invited to attend church-led service on Mull of Kintyre which local minister hopes will “provide comfort, respect and recognition.”

The brother of one of the two pilots killed in the 1994 RAF Chinook crash on the Mull of Kintyre has today expressed his disappointment at the Ministry of Defence for its “continued unacceptable lack of recognition or respect” for the 29 people who died, and for failing to organise an official memorial service to mark the 30th anniversary.

Airline pilot Chris Cook, brother of Richard

RAF’s worst peacetime loss of life

Some of the families involved, along with campaigners, have already expressed their anger at the failure of the MoD to organise an official event with invitations sent to all families to mark this key anniversary of the tragedy.

It was the RAF’s worst peacetime loss of life. All 25 passengers and four crew were killed when RAF Chinook ZD576 crashed on June 2nd 1994. On board were some of the most senior counter terrorism officers working in Northern Ireland at the time.

The two dead pilots, Flight Lieutenants Richard Cook and Jonathan Tapper, were wrongly accused of gross negligence. It was only after a 17-year campaign for justice by the families that the UK Government finally overturned the verdict.

 

Chris Cook, brother of Flight Lieutenant Richard Cook, said today: “I find it extremely disappointing that the families and loved ones of the 29 passengers and crew continue to be treated with such disrespect by the Ministry of Defence.

“Irrespective of the controversy that followed this disaster and the subsequent long campaign that both my and the Tapper family went through to get justice for the two deceased pilots, there is a continued unacceptable lack of recognition or respect by the MOD of the service that each of these 29 brave individuals gave to their country.”

Chris Cook with wife Nicky and son Richard at the cairn on Mull of Kintyre in 2014

Church-led Remembrance Service to be held on Mull of Kintyre

Mr Cook and other families are now planning to travel to the Mull of Kintyre on the anniversary of the crash next month for a church-led remembrance service at 12:30pm on June 2nd organised by the local parish minister, Rev. Steven Sass, who has been liaising with an army chaplain in Northern Ireland.

Rev. Roddy McNidder, who was the parish minister at the time of the crash in 1994, will deliver the sermon.

 

Rev. Steven Sass

Rev. Steven Sass, Minister of Southend Parish Church said:“We hope that as many of the families as possible will join us. We want them to feel welcome and supported and we hope that this act of remembrance will give them the support which they need on this important anniversary.

“I understand that some of the families feel upset about the lack of an official military-led memorial service, but we hope that the church can offer the comfort, respect, and recognition that is deserved. After the church service which starts at 12:30pm we will travel to the memorial cairn at the crash site for a special act of remembrance at 3pm.”

Dr Susan Phoenix, whose husband Ian was also killed in the accident, will also be attending the church service with her son, Niven

Also attending will be Dr Susan Phoenix, along with her son Niven, a former military and now commercial pilot whose father, senior RUC officer Ian Phoenix was one of those killed.

They and other campaigners believe there is a continuing cover up by the MoD over the real cause of the accident and they point to last week’s erroneous claims by the MoD about the findings of an independent review conducted in 2010.

 

David Hill, a retired aeronautical engineer who worked at the Ministry of Defence for more than 30 years, and who has examined and written extensively on this and various other RAF accidents, is angry at the response of the MoD.  He is the author of “Their Greatest Disgrace,” which examines the incident.

David HIll’s Book cover – Image Credit- Amazon

David Hill said:

“Last week, the MoD claimed the findings of the Mull of Kintyre review were fully accepted and that no safety issues with the Chinook Mark 2 were raised in the report. The findings were not fully accepted by MoD and they continue to trot out this nonsense. The entirety of Section 7 of the report relates to safety and the failing airworthiness culture, culminating in the worst failure imaginable.

“’We know from a Boscombe Down report that there were airworthiness concerns, and that the aircraft should not have been ‘operated in any way that places any reliance whatsoever on the proper functioning of this equipment’.”

 

Flight Lt Richard Cook a year before the accident

Chris Cook, a commercial pilot himself, adds: “It appears from the MoD’s statement that they still don’t accept, after all this time and after all the reports including the official Mull of Kintyre Review, that there could have been any safety issues with the Chinook Mark 2 going into service, which I find staggering. Especially as it’s been proven that Boscombe Down had grounded it because there were known safety issues with the aircraft.

““The fact that the MOD have had the official files on this crash locked away for 100 years, till 2094, does raise serious questions regarding a cover up. Since this came to light many of the bereaved families are now very concerned that a cover up has occurred.”

Headstone of Pilot Richard David Cook, who, along with 28 of his colleagues, will be remembered at Southend Parish church, Mull of Kintyre on the 30th anniversary of the crash.

References

  1. Regarding the MoD’s claims of “no safety issues”: Please see the following paragraph in the Mull of Kintyre Review report
  • 7.1.8  At the same time the mid-life upgrade of the Chinook was marred by the malfunctions we have described. A lack of understanding of the cause of these malfunctions led shortly before the accident to a decision by Boscombe Down to cease flying the HC-2. In that situation those in command required to balance the risk to service personnel created by ground troop movements against the risk of flying an aircraft with a history of malfunctions which was comparatively unfamiliar to aircrew. The introduction of the HC-2 could not be halted and on 30 May 1994 it was deployed to Northern Ireland. That decision was taken on the basis of the operational imperative existing at the time and we are not in a position to criticise it.
  1. The BBC’s documentary is available on BBC iPlayer here
  2. A copy of David Hill’s latest expert summary is available to download here.

 

Header image: RAF Chinook ZD576 in service

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