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Parliament push to clear Chinook pilots



Tony Collins

Senior MPs and Lords, including a raft of former ministers, decided last week to form a cross-party action group in a bid to...

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Tony Collins

Senior MPs and Lords, including a raft of former ministers, decided last week to form a cross-party action group in a bid to clear the names of two special forces pilots who were blamed for the Chinook helicopter crash in 1994.

The group believes that computer-related problems, highlighted by Computer Weekly and Channel Four News, could be a possible cause of the crash.

Chaired by cross-bencher Lord Chalfont, a former foreign affairs minister, the group includes Lord Ackner, an ex-Appeal Court judge, former defence ministers James Arbuthnot and Lord Trefgarne, former Labour defence spokesman Martin O'Neill, and former welfare reform minister Frank Field.

Another group member, independent MP Martin Bell, is expected to move that the matter be discussed in a 90-minute Commons debate.

At their founders meeting in the Lords last week, it was also revealed that the former defence secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind is to meet the current defence minister Geoff Hoon. Rifkind believes that there is sufficient doubt over the cause of the crash on the Mull of Kintyre to make the decision to blame the pilots "unsustainable".

MPs and peers are also considering a delegation to the prime minister Tony Blair. Field and Lord Chalfont have tabled questions after allegations that the MoD may be destroying papers that relate to the crash.

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