Shoreham Airshow crash investigation will not re-investigate fatalities

An inquest into the deaths of 11 people in the Shoreham airshow disaster will not re-examine the deaths, a coroner said.

Eleven men died after a plane taking part in a flight display crashed onto the A27 in Shoreham in August 2015.

The plane’s pilot, Andrew Hill, was charged with 11 counts of involuntary manslaughter but was found not guilty on all counts.

The inquest into the deaths opened in September 2015 but was adjourned in 2018 due to a criminal case against Mr Hill. The hearings, scheduled for September 2020, were then adjourned because of the pandemic.

A pre-inquest review of the deaths was held at County Hall North in Horsham, with the Supreme Court ruling that Coroner Penelope Schofield should rely on evidence from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) rather than re-examining the crash.

Ms Schofield said: “The actual witness evidence being examined during the forthcoming inquiry should only cover matters not covered by the AAIB investigation.

“As the High Court found, there is no public interest in a re-inquiry. Rather, the coroner should rely on input from the entity with the greatest expertise in that particular area.

“The brief of my inquiry is now defined as the cause of death of each person who died, and the planning, organization and preparation of the Shoreham Airshow and aerobatic display in relation to the examination provided and all steps taken to protect members of the public outside the airshow, including bystanders and users the A27.”

Ms. Schofield also said that Mr. Hill would not be called as a witness because he had already presented evidence to the inquest.

Kirsten Heaven, a lawyer representing a number of the victims’ families, claimed Sussex Police are trying to “squirm away” from testimony at a safety briefing held in the days leading up to the air show after only hearing two witnesses brought up.

She said: “The families feel that Sussex Police are trying to move away from a small investigation into police involvement at the time.

“Obviously these witnesses have relevant evidence to provide, they were in the room and we’re not asking about all of them, but they all played a different role.

“It appears to families that Sussex Police are trying to squirm away by offering someone who can’t answer families’ questions.”

In response, Sussex Police’s legal representative said: “We are not trying to wriggle out of this, those involved have been traumatized and it will be difficult for many of them to get to court – that needs to be kept in mind.

“It is not unreasonable to say that they are very reluctant to appear in court, but if they are needed they will come.”

The coroner is expected to present her conclusions just before Christmas this year. Shoreham Airshow crash investigation will not re-investigate fatalities

Fry Electronics Team

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