Today the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have announced that the pilot of the ex-military jet aircraft being displayed at the 2015 Shoreham Air Show will be prosecuted. On 22 August 2015, the air craft crashed onto cars on the A27 road during a display sadly killing 11 people and injuring a number of others.
Jim Morris, Head of Aviation at national law firm Ashfords LLP and former RAF pilot, is acting for the family of Matthew Grimstone, who sadly lost his life following the air accident. Jim has significant experience in flying aerobatics in military jet aircraft and was a former flying display coordinator for a RAF international air show. Legal Aid for the inquest has been refused, leading Jim Morris as an aviation expert to represent the Grimstone family as an advocate at the inquest on a pro bono basis (free of charge).
Jim Morris, who was also a specialist prosecutor of military pilots in the RAF court martial system, commented on the CPS decision: "It has taken over two and a half years to reach this CPS decision on the accident following a long and complex investigation. We welcome the CPS's decision which means that things can start to move forward for the families. The complex inquest into the tragedy can only commence after the criminal process and should take around 8 weeks to complete. The inquest will examine in thorough detail the circumstances surrounding the tragedy, including the regulation of display, the organisation of the display, safety assessments, training, preparation and the aerobatic display flown.
"We strongly hope that on completion of the criminal process and the inquest, valuable lessons will be learned and all the necessary safety measures will be implemented to prevent a similar tragedy from ever happening again".
Phil and Sue Grimstone, parents of the victim Matthew Grimstone aged 23 when the aircraft smashed onto his car, commented on the judgement: “We are pleased a decision has finally been made and we hope the criminal process will progress swiftly so that the inquest can commence."
"Our concern with the on-coming Airshow season is have the CAA done enough to tighten up rules to protect the general public? The AAIB state that 65% of display accidents involve aircraft crashing outside the area controlled by the organisers of the display. That remains a worry, not least for the general public who seem less protected than paying spectators.
"Whilst those within the industry like to point out that a member of the public has not been killed on the ground prior to 2015 for 63 years, there have been a number of incidents over the years of aircraft crashing at Airshows close to roads/houses. Only in 2017 on the 9th July an aircraft at Duxford Airshow came down in a field close to the M11. Tragically the luck ran out at Shoreham.”