James Arbuthnot, MP for North East Hampshire, expressed delight as an independent review today officially cleared two RAF Chinook pilots of the charge of gross negligence following the 1994 Mull of Kintyre crash.
I am enormously pleased at the result. It has taken 17 years to clear the pilots’ names. John Cook, whose son Rick was one of those blamed, lived in Church Crookham. He persuaded me to help his campaign to clear Rick’s name over 10 years ago. It is a wonderful day for the pilots’ families, who are enormously relieved.
Both pilots trained at RAF Odiham. The memorial that stands there to all those killed in the crash is a poignant reminder to the suffering of all those left behind.
I wish to add that Air Chief Marshal Sir Bill Wratten and Air Chief Marshal Sir John Day, though quite wrong in their decision, were and remain utterly honourable men who have served their country with distinction and who were doing what they honestly thought was right on the basis of the legal advice they were given.
James persuaded the Conservative Party to commit to setting up the independent review of the evidence arising from the crash, prior to the 2010 election. This followed over 10 years of involvement in the campaign to clear the pilots’ names, including leading the Parliamentary cross-party group of MPs and peers, the Mull of Kintyre Group.