A CORONER has asked the Government to meet families of three airmen who died in Afghanistan to allay fears over a body parts “mix-up”.
Assistant deputy coroner for Oxfordshire, Andrew Walker, fears some remains of the servicemen and their 11 colleagues who died when a spy plane came down near Kandahar were returned to the UK in the wrong coffins.
The tragedy in September 2006 was the UK armed forces’ biggest loss of life since the Falklands campaign.
Among the 14 dead was the pilot, 39-year-old Flight Lieutenant Allan Squires who spent his early years in Ellesmere Port.
Representatives for the families claimed there has been “very little liaison” with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) over the matter during a pre-inquest hearing last week.
Mr Walker said the matter was not part of his “scope and purpose” but added a meeting should take place in the next month so the situation can be resolved before the full inquest starts on May 6.
The men’s aircraft had exploded in a ball of flames while they were on an intelligence-gathering operation. Flt Lt Squires, who lived in Clatterbridge, Wirral, had reported seeing a fire in the bomb bay.
Two other regional men, Flt Lt Steven Swarbrick, 28, from Formby, and weapons system operator Sgt John Langton, 29, from Garston, were also on board.
An RAF board of inquiry into the loss of the plane, call sign XV230, found that ageing components and a lack of fire suppressants were among the “contributory factors” which led to the accident.
At the time, the MoD confirmed there had been a “regrettable incident” but insisted it had been sorted out before the funerals of the servicemen.
David Evans, representing the MoD, told the court the meeting would be a way in which the families’ fears could be allayed over the matter.
For the full inquest, documents including transcripts of the aircraft’s mission tape, flying logbooks and a combustion report will be made available for lawyers representing the families.
A Nimrod will be flown from Scotland to Brize Norton in Oxfordshire to be inspected.