Shoreham Airshow crash families going into inquest ‘blind’, says lawyer

Barrister Gerard Forlin QC insisted families had a right to see evidence relating to the deaths of their loved ones.

Shoreham air crash victims
Shoreham air crash victims

Families of those who died in the Shoreham Airshow tragedy are going into the inquest “blind” because of arguments over evidence disclosure, their lawyer has said.

Barrister Gerard Forlin QC said “we really do not know what is out there” and insisted families had a right to see evidence relating to the deaths of their loved ones.

He made his comments at a pre-inquest review into the tragedy on Wednesday.

Shoreham Airshow
A Hawker Hunter jet exploded in a fireball at the airshow in August 2015 (Screengrab/Sussex Police and CPS/PA)

Pilot Andrew Hill survived after the Hawker Hunter jet he was flying exploded into a fireball on a busy dual carriageway at the Shoreham Airshow in West Sussex on August 22 2015.

Eleven men died in the crash but their inquests have been postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wednesday’s hearing took place at the West Sussex Record Office in Chichester but was largely attended over Zoom.

Mr Hill also spoke at the hearing, commenting on the fatal manoeuvre and the scope of the inquest.

Central to the proceedings on Wednesday was debate over material that is subject to legal restrictions and how much of it can be included in the proceedings.

Mr Forlin, who represents some of the families, said: “We feel that we should obviously have a right to see (the material) at some stage and also make submissions on it, which is going to be extremely difficult in the blind.

Senior coroner Penelope Schofield
Senior coroner Penelope Schofield said she understood the difficulties the families were facing (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“We really do not know what is out there.

“How many more documents are out there that the families have a right to see?”

Senior coroner Penelope Schofield said she understood the difficulties they were facing and that it was something she considered “virtually on a daily basis”.

In discussions about the scope of the inquest – which is still being finalised – Mrs Schofield said Mr Hill had asked that the wording be amended in regard to the fatal final loop made by the Hawker Hunter aircraft.

She said: “The point that Mr Hill was trying to make is that he did not actually plan the manoeuvre that resulted in the crash.

“He planned to do a different manoeuvre.”

Originally earmarked for September this year, the inquest is now scheduled for a six-week period during September and October 2021.

Mrs Schofield said: “It allows for present restrictions to calm and it provides for more certainty and then hopefully we will avoid any future adjournment.”

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