The father of an RAF officer who died in a Tornado jet collision has raised fears that “all possible lessons have not been learned” from the tragedy.
Michael Poole issued the warning in a letter to Scotland’s new lord advocate, Dorothy Bain QC, as he gave his backing to fresh calls for a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the 2012 crash which killed his son, Flight Lieutenant Hywel Poole, and two other airmen.
He warned that a previous Military Aviation Authority (MAA) investigation into the collision over the Moray Firth was conducted by officers who were “too close to the system” to recognise the “systemic failures” he believes existed at RAF Lossiemouth.
In his letter, the retired scientist from Anglesey in Wales argued that an FAI might “stimulate action that could save the lives of aircrew currently in service and those serving in the future”.
Flt Lt Poole was 28 when he died alongside Squadron Leader Sam Bailey, 36, and Flt Lt Adam Sanders, 27, on July 3, 2012. A fourth crew member was injured.
The RAF Lossiemouth-based aircrew were flying in Tornado jets which collided in bad weather about seven nautical miles south-east of Helmsdale.
A damning MAA inquiry found 17 contributory factors led to the collision, including the failure to fit collision warning systems to the Tornado GR4 jets and “ineffective” supervision of the crew.
Two previous lord advocates have rejected calls for an FAI into the tragedy, despite a 2017 rule change meaning all military deaths in Scotland must now be subject to such a hearing.
The Crown Office has insisted that an FAI could “not better and would only repeat” the probe carried out by the MAA, which made 42 recommendations.
However, the appointment of a new lord advocate last month has raised hopes among campaigners that the decision could be reconsidered.
Local campaigner Jimmy Jones and Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross have already written to Ms Bain earlier this month, urging her to order an FAI.
Now they have been backed by Mr Poole, who has written to the lord advocate in support of a letter sent by Mr Jones.
“I believe that all possible lessons have not been learned, and appropriate action taken, following the accident that killed my son,” he said.
I believe that all possible lessons have not been learned, and appropriate action taken, following the accident that killed my son.”
“A fatal accident inquiry could reveal these failings and might stimulate action that could save the lives of aircrew currently in service and those serving in the future.
“Just one life saved would be more than enough justification for the holding of a fatal accident inquiry.”
Mr Poole said he recognised that he MAA inquiry report was “comprehensive and detailed”, but he said he did not believe it “provides all the answers”.
He criticised a remark in the report stating that “bad luck has to be part of the explanation”, saying: “I do not find this acceptable.”
Mr Poole said: “There should have been procedures in place to ensure that the two planes did not come anywhere near each other and luck should not have come into it.
“In my view there were systemic failures in the operation and command management of the RAF station.
There should have been procedures in place to ensure that the two planes did not come anywhere near each other and luck should not have come into it.”
“In particular the safety management procedures were inadequate, and near misses that have occurred since the accident suggest that these inadequacies have not been addressed.
“I believe that, because the service inquiry was undertaken by military officers, they were ‘too close to the system’ to recognise and identify these systemic failures.”
A spokesman for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “I can confirm that we have received correspondence from Mr Poole and a response will be issued in due course.”
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said its thoughts continue to be with the family and friends of Sqn Ldr Sam Bailey, Flt Lt Hywel Poole and Flt Lt Adam Sanders.
It has added that any decision on an FAI is for the lord advocate, and that the MoD has provided all information requested by the legal authorities in their consideration of the matter.