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COPFS

Clutha Helicopter Crash: Information

A Police Scotland helicopter crashed onto the busy Clutha bar in Glasgow on 29 November 2013, killing 10 people.

Immediately following the incident meetings were held between the Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC  and the Solicitor General Lesley Thomson QC and the Chief Inspector and Deputy Chief Inspector of Air Accidents at the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) to underline the need for them to carry out a through and speedy investigation in close liaison with the Crown.   

An investigation by Police Scotland under the direction of the Crown into the cause of the crash is underway. However, the AAIB inquiry is responsible for the safety part of the investigation to establish the cause of the crash and we must have this information before we can complete our investigation.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service is aware the families of those who died in the Clutha crash want the investigation to be completed as soon as possible and we can assure them that we have a specialist team of health and safety experts within Crown Office dealing with the investigation.

On 28 November 2014 the Air Accidents Investigation Branch published an update on their investigation.

However, the Crown must have the final report from the AAIB before it can complete its investigation.


Background information:

1. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is conducting a detailed investigation into the circumstances of the tragedy. The purpose of this investigation is to ascertain what led to the helicopter going down and to identify any safety issues which require to be addressed.

That investigation is not focused on fault or blame of any parties or individuals.

The investigation by the AAIB is not under the direction of the Procurator Fiscal.

There is a parallel investigation by Police Scotland, the purpose of which is to ascertain for the purposes of the Procurator Fiscal what caused the tragedy.

Practically speaking that means that the AAIB’s safety investigation will require to have established the technical cause of the crash before COPFS can assess the significance of their findings and use them to progress that side of the parallel investigation.

2. The Crown office and Procurator Fiscal service is responsible for:

  • investigating the circumstances of a death;
  • instructing investigations to try to find out the cause of a death;
  • considering whether there should be any criminal proceedings arising out of the circumstances;
  • reporting the case to Crown Counsel for a decision as to whether there should be criminal prosecution and/or a Fatal Accident Inquiry.

The Police in this case are carrying out enquiries such as interviewing witnesses and obtaining specialist reports and opinions and will submit a report to the Procurator Fiscal who has overall responsibility for the investigation of the death.

When the Procurator Fiscal is satisfied that all the circumstances have been fully investigated, a report is prepared containing all of the evidence and a recommendation is made to Crown Counsel, the most senior lawyers in Crown Office.

Crown Counsel will take the final decision on whether there should be a prosecution and/or Fatal Accident Inquiry or indeed recommend that there should be another form of Inquiry which could take place under the Inquiries Act 2005. That would ultimately be a decision for Government Ministers.