Family seeks prosecution over loss of UK Nimrod jet in Afghanistan

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Following a new report into the loss of a Nimrod jet belonging to the UK's Royal Air Force over Afghanistan the family of one of the victims is seeking a criminal prosecution. Sergeant Ben Knight, aged 25, was among the fourteen killed when Nimrod XV230 crashed in 2006.

Knight's parents have applied via their lawyers Smithfield Partners to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider evidence contained in a report by Charles Haddon-Cave QC, who is due to appear before the House of Commons next month. The Loss Of RAF Nimrod XV230, A Failure Of Leadership, Culture And Priorities stated that the accident was preventable and that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) made spending cuts a priority over safety. A 2005 review into Nimrod safety was "riddled with errors," the report found.

Smithfield Partners have also written to the Health and Safety Executive, asking for the MoD to be investigated for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The letter was addressed directly to deputy chief executive Kevin Myres.

XV230 had shortly completed air-to-air refueling on September 2, 2006, when it was destroyed by an explosion. "We had a 25-year-old healthy son, who used to play squash and, to put it bluntly, he ended up as a plastic bag full of bits," said Graham Knight. "That is something which is very hard to cope with."

The Knights met Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell in London yesterday. Rammell said he was unable to comment on possible legal action against individuals, but promised to provide answers to other questions posed by the Knights and other families. The Crown Prosecution Service has promised consider the matter, and the Health and Safety Executive said it could not comment this early on in developments. The latest report names five people in the MoD, three with BAE Systems and two with defence company QinetiQ, as responsible.