Lord advocate to call for handover of black box in helicopter crash investigation

Lord advocate to call for handover of black box in helicopter crash investigation

A legal hearing is to be held in Edinburgh to speed up the criminal investigation into the North Sea helicopter crash which saw four offshore workers killed.

The lord advocate, Frank Mulholland QC (pictured), will argue in the Court of Session on May 19 that accident investigators should hand over the black box recorder form the Super Puma L2, which crashed off the coast of Shetland in August 2013.

Mr Mulholland has argued the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) must now produce the black box in order to expedite the investigation into the tragedy.

The material will allow the Crown to determine whether anyone is to be prosecuted over the deaths.

Althought the AAIB has not objected to the black box being handed over, there are strict rules covering such investigations, which are meant to ensure the integrity of the probe.

The lord advocate is to argue that the laws ought to be relaxed in this instance.

A spokesman for the Crown Office said: “Following a helicopter crash off Sumburgh on 23 August, 2013 in which four people died, Crown Office began an investigation into the cause of the deaths.

“The investigation is ongoing and the families of those who died will continue to be updated in relation to any significant developments.”

An interim report provided that a reduction in airspeed caused the crash and that this was not noticed by pilots.

No evidence of a technical fault has been found so far.

Lisa Gregory, head of Digby Brown Solicitors Aberdeen office, is representing some of the crash survivors.

She described the lord advocate’s move as “unusual”.

She said: “On one view, of course the families and the survivors should have access to them but, on the other hand, there are wider safety implications.

“There is a very strong culture of self reporting and full disclosure of incidents in the aviation industry.

“There is a real concern that making the data public would undermine that culture and prevent the industry learning from incidents to avoid recurrences.”

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