The review, led by Lord Philip and assisted by three Privy Counsellors, examined the evidence relating to the findings of the Board of Inquiry into the accident.
The review makes three key recommendations:
- the finding that the pilots were negligent to a gross degree should be set aside
- the MOD should consider offering an apology to the families of the pilots
- the MOD should reconsider its policy and procedures for the transport of personnel whose responsibilities are vital to national security.
At the request of the Defence Secretary, the Defence Council was convened and has set aside the findings that the pilots were negligent to a gross degree and has ordered that this action be noted on the pilots’ records.
On behalf of the MOD, the Defence Secretary has also apologised to the families of the pilots.
Dr Fox said:
I set up this review in the face of continued criticism of the official conclusion that the accident was caused by negligence to a gross degree and my own fear that an injustice had been done. The review concludes that this finding should be set aside.
I hope that this will bring some comfort to the families of the pilots and I would like to apologise on behalf of the MOD for the sorrow which was caused to them by this finding.
I pay tribute to the 29 people who died in the accident. Their deaths were a huge blow to the country and a tragedy for their families.
I am grateful to Lord Philip and his fellow Privy Counsellors for their thorough and painstaking work which has resulted in clear and unanimous recommendations.
I hope that the conclusion of this review and the action I have taken in response to it will bring an end to this chapter by removing this stain on the reputations of the two pilots.
The review does not lay blame as to the cause of the accident and does not give support to any suggestions of technical failure. It concludes the cause of the accident is likely never to be known. Since the accident the Chinook aircraft has had an excellent safety record and continues to be a mainstay of operations, having the full confidence of those who fly it.
The Defence Secretary also stated that he would personally satisfy himself that the three Services had properly considered their policy and procedures for transporting personnel who are vital to national security.
Lord Philip said:
Last September I was asked, along with my fellow Privy Councillors Lord Forsyth, Baroness Liddell and Malcolm Bruce MP, to conduct an independent review of the findings of the Board of Inquiry into the RAF helicopter ZD576 accident on the Mull of Kintyre.
Because of the limited amount of evidence available, the investigating Board of Inquiry were unable to determine the cause of the accident, and so concluded that it was impossible to find that the pilots had been negligent to any degree.
The Reviewing Officers, on the other hand, concluded on the same evidence that both pilots had been negligent to a gross degree.
We have recommended to the Secretary of State that the finding that the pilots were negligent to a gross degree should be set aside. We have also recommended that the Ministry of Defence should reconsider its policy and procedures for the transport of personnel whose responsibilities are vital to national security.