Legal moves to get South Shields man’s death crash ’copter box

CRASH VICTIM ... George Allison.
CRASH VICTIM ... George Allison.

LEGAL action is to be taken to gain voice recordings from a North Sea helicopter which crashed and killed a South Tyneside man.

Oil worker George Allison, 57, who was originally from South Shields, died along with three others, when a Super Puma helicopter plunged into the sea two miles west of Sumburgh Airport on Scotland’s Shetland Islands, on August 23 last year.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) says it has found no evidence of technical failure in the helicopter, which was carrying 16 passengers and two crew.

However, Scotland’s independent public prosecution service, the Crown Office, which is also investigating the case, wants access to the cockpit voice recorded data.

In what is being described as a rare legal move, the Crown Office is expected to petition the Court of Session with the aim of recovering material which is held by the AAIB. A spokesman said: “After a helicopter crash off Sumburgh on August 23, 2013 in which four people died, Crown Office began an investigation into the cause of the deaths.

“The investigation is ongoing, and the families of those who died will continue to be updated in relation to any significant developments.”

Blackbox recorders are normally retained by AAIB during safety investigations, but a court can rule they should be handed over if it considers it to be in the public interest.

The crash en route to Sumburgh Airport also claimed the lives of 45-year-old Sarah Darnley from Elgin, Moray, Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness, and Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland in County Durham.

An AAIB spokesman said: “Regulations allow for the release of this type of information if a court decides it is in the public interest to do so.

“The court has yet to make its decision in this case.”

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