Stewarts is representing the majority of the families who lost their loved ones in the Shoreham Airshow Disaster at the long awaited inquest this December.
The inquest is set to begin on Wednesday 30 November, more than seven years after the accident. It will run until Monday 19 December (although there is a possibility that it may end a day sooner) and will mainly take place at County Hall North in Horsham.
Sarah Stewart, Partner in the Aviation department at Stewarts comments:
“This is the last step in a long road to justice and truth for the families of those killed in the Shoreham Airshow disaster. After seven years, they are finally about to get some answers on how this disaster happened. The Senior Coroner’s conclusions will not bring their loved ones back, but there will be some solace in the hope that the findings lead to improved safety in the planning of future air shows.”
Sarah is representing the families at the inquest, alongside leading counsel Gerard Forlin KC and junior counsel Kirsten Heaven.
About the inquest
The inquest is currently set to last for up to 12 days and will open with two days focussed on the families, during which they will be able to share their pen portraits. The pen portraits are an opportunity for family members to speak in open court about their loved ones and how much they are missed. The pen portrait days are set for Wednesday 30 November and Friday 2 December and the families hope that the surviving pilot Andrew Hill will be present during that process.
The families hope that through the inquest they will finally get some answers about what happened on 22 August 2015. The Senior Coroner could rule that Article 2 of the Human Rights Act is engaged. Article 2 protects the right to life and allows the Senior Coroner to broaden her inquiry and look at the systems that were in place that may have contributed to the loss of life.
The Senior Coroner is expected to reach a conclusion at the end of the inquest, which will likely be delivered on Monday 19 December.
It is hoped as part of this inquest the Senior Coroner will make recommendations to help prevent further, future deaths and the families will be able to take solace from knowing that such recommendations could prevent a similar disaster from ever happening again.
The crash occurred at the Shoreham Airshow on 22 August 2015. A Hawker Hunter aircraft performing in the show failed to pull out of a loop manoeuvre before crashing to the ground on the adjacent A27 road and bursting into flames. Eleven people lost their lives and a further 13 were injured. Crucially, those affected were not airshow attendees, but regular commuters on the A27 and secondary spectators that were watching the show from outside the designated viewing area.
The pilot Andrew Hill survived the crash. He was found not guilty of manslaughter in March 2019.
In February 2022, the High Court ruled that footage captured by the pilot’s Go-Pro video camera could not be used in the Senior Coroner’s inquest as it was considered ‘protected material’.
It has been more than seven years since the air show disaster. As in all aviation accidents there has been a detailed AAIB investigation, but there have also been lengthy criminal proceedings, a CAA Review, High Court proceedings brought by the Senior Coroner for access to ‘protected material’ (that was refused) and eleven pre-inquest review hearings. It has been a long and difficult journey for the families.
National and local media outlets have covered the impending start of the inquest and Sarah’s comments, including:
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