Defence chiefs have never been held to account for failures that led to a fatal RAF Tornado jet collision over the Moray Firth, a retired officer claims 10 years after the tragedy.
Jimmy Jones is still fighting for a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the events of July 3, 2012.
In an exclusive interview for our politics podcast, The Stooshie, he said UK Government ministers and the most senior military officers knew about Tornado safety concerns but failed to act quickly enough.
The 10th anniversary of the collision, which involved two RAF Lossiemouth-based jets, will be marked on Sunday.
They all knew about it but nobody has been held to account.
– Retired RAF officer Jimmy Jones
The tragedy caused the deaths of Flight Lieutenant Hywel Poole, Squadron Leader Sam Bailey and Flt Lt Adam Sanders, while a fourth airman was injured.
Michael Poole, father of Flt Lt Hywel Poole, spoke earlier this week of the “huge hole” left in his heart since losing his son.
He also said it was “incomprehensible” that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had still not installed collision warning systems in the aircraft which succeeded Tornado, such as Typhoon and F-35 Lightning.
The failure to fit a collision warning system in Tornado jets was highlighted by the Military Aviation Authority as one of 17 factors contributing to the 2012 collision.
Mr Jones, a retired RAF officer who secured a change in the law in 2017 to ensure FAIs are now mandatory for military deaths in Scotland, believes military decision-makers have not been held to account.
He argues an FAI would offer greater scrutiny than the military’s own service inquiry.
‘Nobody has been held to account’
Mr Jones told The Stooshie: “They knew that these aircraft really needed a collision warning system.
“They were signed off to say it is okay to operate as you are – and that went all the way up to the chief of staff and to the secretary of state for defence.
“They all knew about it but nobody has been held to account.
“Their argument is, ‘we signed off to say we know we have a programme in place to put it right eventually and therefore it is safe’.
“That’s like me telling the authorities, ‘I know my car doesn’t have a seatbelt fitted but I intend to do it by the end of the year, or next year, and therefore it is safe’.
“I mean, you would get laughed out of court.”
After having his calls for an FAI rejected by three lord advocates, Mr Jones also told the DC Thomson politics podcast that he believed a public inquiry was now the only way to get answers.
The MoD was contacted for comment.