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Shoreham crash cockpit footage won’t be shown to Coroner

Hawker Hunter G-BXFI Hunter G-BXFI (Image: Alan Wilson CC BY-SA2.0)

Hawker Hunter G-BXFI (Image: Alan Wilson CC BY-SA2.0)

A coroner conducting inquests into the victims of the Shoreham air show crash has been blocked from using the cockpit footage after the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) argued it could hamper future investigations.

11 people were killed when Pilot Andy Hills Hawker Hunter failed to complete an aerobatic manoeuvre and crashed onto the dual carriageway outside of Shoreham Airport in 2015.

Mr Hill was charged with gross negligence manslaughter following the incident but was acquitted in 2019.

The AAIB investigation concluded that the crash was caused by pilot error however at the trial at the Old Bailey Mr Hills defence raised the issue of cognitive impairment and used the in-cockpit footage as evidence.

As a result of that, Penelope Schofield the senior coroner for West Sussex asked for the footage in order to assess whether a report from a doctor at the trial could show that the AAIB probe was ‘incomplete, flawed or deficient‘ in considering cognitive impairment in its report.

The AAIB opposed the release of the footage citing that as it cannot compel people to take part in their investigations, the protection of evidence supplied to them is a key factor in ensuring people do provide evidence to the investigations and releasing it could have a detrimental effect on future investigations.

The two judges dismissed the application from the coroner saying there “is neither credible evidence nor, even adopting her approach, a credible suggestion that the AAIB investigations were incomplete, flawed or deficient on the issue of cognitive impairment”.

The AAIB reviewed its investigation after the trial and concluded there was no new evidence in the video that suggested cognitive impairment.

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