UK government sued over deaths in 2006 Nimrod crash in Afghanistan

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

This RAF Nimrod MR2 is almost identical to the one involved.

The families of two members of the crew of a United Kingdom RAF Hawker Siddeley Nimrod which crashed almost exactly two years ago during a mission in Afghanistan are suing their government. None of the twelve crew and two other officers on board Royal Air Force Nimrod XV230 survived the midair explosion.

According to a report last year by Assistant Deputy Coroner for Oxford Andrew Walker "The aircraft was in my judgment never airworthy from the first release to service in 1969." The coroner recommended grounding the entire Nimrod fleet, but this was never done, with the government saying that the aircraft were safe after modifications carried out after the crash.

The final report on the accident blamed the crash on a fuel leak into a dry bay, which ignited after contacting an air pipe that was hot. The jet had undergone midair refueling just minutes previously. The plane was one of a fleet of fifteen that were intended for retirement last decade but still operate, despite having suffered various mechanical problems, including fuel leaks.

A writ was today served on UK Defence Secretary Des Browne by the families of Sergeant Ben Knight, 25, and Flight Lieutenant Steven Swarbrick, 28. The writ accuses the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of failing to minimise risks, negligence and denial of the right to life. This last charge makes it the first time the MoD has faced a legal challenge under the European Convention of Human Rights.

Graham Knight, Ben's father, claimed that "Nobody has been held accountable for the actual crash. The Government has stood up and said we are sorry. The coroner has said the aircraft was never airworthy but nobody in the RAF or MoD has ever been held accountable for it." He went on to say he was 'disappointed' in the RAF and that My son was proud to be in the RAF and I thought it was full of honourable men. But no one would stand up and take responsibility or resign."

September 2 will mark the second anniversary of the accident, the biggest loss of UK military lives in a single incident since the war in the Falklands in 1982. It is the last chance for compensation to be sought, as this must be done within two years of the event.

Related news