New Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain has been asked to order a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the 2012 RAF Tornado jet crash over the Moray Firth.
The prosecution service chief, who was appointed to the lord advocate post last month, has been urged to reconsider the case for a court probe into the tragedy by local campaigner Jimmy Jones and Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross.
Mr Jones claimed that the previous lord advocate, James Wolffe, was a “major stumbling block” in his bid for an FAI into the mid-air crash, which claimed the lives of three crew from RAF Lossiemouth.
The retired RAF officer has been lobbying for several years for a hearing into the deaths of Squadron Leader Sam Bailey, 36, Flight Lieutenant Hywel Poole, 28, and Flight Lieutenant Adam Sanders, 27.
In 2017, Mr Jones secured a change in the law to ensure all deaths of military personnel in Scotland would automatically be the subject of an FAI in future.
However, the Crown Office has refused to apply the rule retrospectively, insisting that the circumstances of the Tornado crash have been fully investigated by the Military Aviation Authority (MAA).
The MAA inquiry found 17 contributory factors led to the collision, which happened in bad weather on July 3 2012, about seven nautical miles south-east of Helmsdale.
These included the failure to fit collision warning systems to the Tornado GR4 jets.
In a letter to Ms Bain, Mr Jones warned that the tragedy could be repeated unless lessons were learned at an FAI.
“Whilst much has been talked about the lack of a collision warning system I cannot stress too strongly that the Tornado crew members died on the 3rd July 2012 because systemic failings in the risk management process permitted inadequately equipped Tornado aircraft to operate in an unsafe condition,” he said.
“This defect in the system of working, for which a sheriff can make recommendations for improvements to any system of working in order to prevent deaths in similar circumstances, falls within the scope of an FAI.
“This defect in the system of working remains in place today and manifested itself again with near misses over Moray and the Moray Firth in 2017 and 2018 between fast jet Typhoon aircraft and civil aircraft.
“Such a ‘defect’ which is not aircraft specific, must merit an FAI in the public interest.
I believe that in the unfortunate event of another similar catastrophic accident the decision not to call an FAI will come under detailed scrutiny.”
“I believe that in the unfortunate event of another similar catastrophic accident the decision not to call an FAI will come under detailed scrutiny.”
The Ministry of Defence previously accepted liability for the tragedy and has said that it had implemented the lessons learned from the MAA inquiry.
Mr Ross, the Moray MP and MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has also asked the new lord advocate to reconsider the case, however.
He said: “Jimmy Jones has campaigned for many years to secure a fatal accident inquiry into the tragic death of three servicemen following the mid-air collision of two Tornado aircraft over the Moray Firth in 2012.
“A service inquiry was held into the crash which the previous lord advocate deemed adequate.
With a new lord advocate in place I have made representations on behalf of Mr Jones asking that consideration be given to fully looking into this matter and assessing whether a FAI is appropriate at this time.”
“However, to all intents and purposes this was an in-house investigation, and an independent inquiry would fully cover the circumstances of the crash and answer some of the remaining issues family and friends of those who lost their lives want clarity on.
“With a new lord advocate in place I have made representations on behalf of Mr Jones asking that consideration be given to fully looking into this matter and assessing whether a FAI is appropriate at this time.”
A spokesman for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “The circumstances of this crash and loss of life have been fully investigated and no new material or information has been presented that changes the decision not to hold an FAI.”