Tuesday, 28 April 2009



SNP Westminster Leader and Defence spokesperson, Angus Robertson MP, has welcomed confirmation today (Tuesday) from Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill that plans to allow fatal accident inquiries into the deaths of military personnel killed abroad to be held in Scotland are set to receive Royal assent later this year.

At Westminster the Coroners and Justice Bill has been amended to allow such inquiries to take place in Scottish courts.

Changes to the law, which will mean that families of Scottish service personnel killed abroad will no longer have to travel to England to attend their loved one's inquests, have been championed by the Moray MP.

At present all UK service personnel killed abroad are repatriated to England and all inquiries are conducted by an English Coroners Inquest necessitating significant costs and long round trips for family members.

There is currently no provision for Scottish Fatal Accident Inquiries into overseas military deaths.

The anomalous situation was highlighted in September 2006 following the loss of Nimrod XV230 in Afghanistan. Although ten of the fourteen service personnel killed aboard the aircraft were based in RAF Kinloss in Moray, which Mr Robertson represents, the inquest into the fatal crash took place in Oxfordshire.

Mr Robertson said:

“This has always been about family members who deserve the best support and assistance after the deaths of a loved one. It was simply unacceptable that Service families in Scotland had to travel so far and at great cost to inquiries in the south of England.

“There has been a desperate need for the coroners service to be more responsive, and making these changes which will allow inquests to be held in Scotland will bring a real improvement for bereaved families, witnesses and the wider public.

“As someone who has been battling for these common sense changes, I know just how much work has gone on behind the scenes to bring all the elements to together, and I am delighted that the Scottish Government and UK Ministers have worked to secure a way forward that will allow inquiries in Scotland."

Shona Beattie, whose husband Flight Sergeant Stephen Beattie died aboard Nimrod XV230 said:

“It is really good news that the Scottish Government has made substantial progress with the UK Ministry of Defence and these changes will become law.

“For decades Service families in Scotland have been overlooked but this is changing. It is now time for the Scots legal system to play its role investigating overseas military deaths.

“I am appreciative of the efforts made by Angus Robertson MP and Scottish Ministers who pushed for these changes. They will make a real difference to Service families in Scotland.”

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