Pre-inquest review into Shoreham airshow crash deaths postponed

Hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects to the Shoreham Airshow victims, a year after the tragedy
Hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects to the Shoreham Airshow victims, a year after the tragedy

The pre-inquest review into the 11 deaths following the Shoreham airshow crash has been postponed while prosecutors consider whether to charge the pilot with any criminal offences.

The pre-inquest review had been due to take place on Wednesday, January 24.

However, West Sussex Senior Coroner Penelope Schofield said the Crown Prosecution Service had recently notified her that no decision would be reached before that date on whether or not the pilot of the aircraft will be charged.

The pre inquest review has therefore been rescheduled for Monday, March 26, and the families have been informed.

Ms Schofield described the decision to postpone as regrettable but said with no decision from the CPS that little progress could be made.

She indicated she was still working towards holding the full inquest in the autumn if no criminal charges are brought, a spokesman from West Sussex County Council confirmed.

The inquest may have to be suspended if the CPS decides to bring criminal charges, added the spokesman.

Sussex Police spent months investigating pilot Andy Hill, 53, for possible manslaughter by gross negligence and for possible endangerment contrary to Article 138 Air Navigation Order 2009.

Eleven men lost their lives when the Hawker Hunter jet he was flying crashed during a display at the airshow on the afternoon of Saturday, August 22, 2015.

This afternoon, the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham is holding a Westminster Hall debate to discuss why the process was taking so long and why the families of the victims of the tragedy had their application for exceptional case funding rejected by the legal aid agency.

Tim Loughton is due to say: “After the crash, I said that the first priority must be to give the families the support they will need in these difficult times, however, given how events have panned out, it is hard to see how that has been achieved as it should and could have been.

“28 months on from the crash and the coroner’s inquest has still not happened and is not scheduled until November 2018 at the earliest and no decision has been taken by the CPS about whether any charges will be brought against anyone or anybody.

“I raised this issue directly with the Prime Minister at PMQs in November 2017 and specifically the extraordinary decision by the Legal Aid Agency not to extend funding from the Exceptional Cases Fund to the families of the victims at the Coroner’s Inquest when it eventually takes place.

“It is completely unacceptable that the grief of the families is being extended and the Government needs to find a way to step in to ensure justice is available on a level playing field for all.”

The debate will take place today (Tuesday, January 9) at Westminster Hall from 4pm to 4.30pm.

Visit www.shorehamherald.co.uk for updates.