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Fatal Accident Inquiries Mandatory in Scotland Following Military Deaths

The Scottish Government has announced that fatal accident inquiries (FAIs) will be mandatory for all cases involving military personnel. The change in the law sees Scotland’s FAI’s comes after a law in England and Wales saw a coroner’s inquest taking place following the death of any serviceman or woman. Currently in Scotland, the decision to have an FAI lies with the Lord Advocate in Scotland.

The move has been welcomed by campaigners who have long criticised the Scottish Government for not having such a policy in place. High-profile incidents like the fatal collision of two RAF Tornado jets above the Moray Firth did not result in a Fatal Accident Inquiry despite calls from the public, however, under the new laws, an inquiry would now be held.

The groundbreaking changes will now result in an FAI following a military casualty.

Westminster SNP Leader Angus Robertson MP who has been campaigning for a number of years to have the law changed welcomed the move by the Scottish Government saying: ‘’These groundbreaking changes have been necessary for some time, and I am delighted that the Scottish Government has made progress on this with the Ministry of Defence.

“Service personnel in Scotland and their families deserve the best protections, and that includes inquiries into tragic cases involving fatalities.”

FAI: Lengthy Campaign for Change

Campaigners have also welcomed the move with safety campaigner and former RAF engineer Jimmy Jones saying: ‘’These changes are hugely significant. There is a very long list of tragic incidents involving fatalities of service personnel in Scotland where there was no FAI. This will now change, ending the anomaly that there are mandatory inquests into military fatalities in England and Wales but not Scotland. Thus far an agreement has been made “in principle” to bring in such changes in Scotland

Legal affairs minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Following representations I have made to the UK Government, I am delighted to be able to tell members that the UK Government has given its in principle agreement that it should be possible for a mandatory FAI to be carried out for such deaths, in the same way that such a death would be subject to a coroner’s inquest if it occurred in England or Wales.” The changes will also need to be approved by the Scottish Government.

Fatal Accident Inquiries Scotland

The news regarding military FAIs comes after an inquiry into Fatal Accident Inquiries called for an improvement in the overall structure of such events. A Holyrood committee urged all parties to work with the Scottish Government.

Currently FAIs are compulsory following the death of an employee during employment or the death of a person in custody, with military deaths being the third compulsory FAI if it is passed through Scottish Parliament. An FAI looks to provide closure and shed light on the factors that cause an unexpected or unexplained death.

Expert Solicitors in FAIs: Contact Us

Often claimants rely on the Procurator Fiscal Service without realising that they can use their own solicitor or have their own representation. At McCarthy law, we specialise in representing people during an FAI. We understand that such an inquiry can be exceptionally difficult for loved ones, and we treat each case with the utmost sensitivity and respect. Get in touch with our solicitors today using our online contact form.