Families Will Seek Verdict Of Unlawful Killing When Inquest Opens On 10 July
The British families of passengers killed in the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 crash have expressed hope that the forthcoming inquest will provide them with answers.
Sam Pegram, aged 25, from Preston, and fellow UK nationals, Joanna Toole, aged 36, from Exmouth and Oliver Vick, aged 45, were among the 157 passengers and crew killed when flight ET302 crashed on 10 March, 2019. The flight ended six minutes after the 737 Max aircraft took off from Addis Ababa, en route to Nairobi in Kenya.
The long-awaited accident report caused significant delay to the start of Inquest proceedings into the deaths of British passengers, which is now taking place on Monday 10 July.
Many of the families of the British victims of the crash are being represented by Irwin Mitchell’s specialist aviation team, including Sallie Booth, Vincent Nichol and Yaseethura Thirurasa.
Expert Opinion“The delays to the publication of the Air Accident Report meant the families have had to endure a long wait for answers regarding the crash that lead to the death of their loved ones.
“This accident could have happened in the UK or anywhere else in the world and finding the answers in this case clearly has wide implications. The accident report does not blame the pilots, or the impact of the aircraft striking birds or any other external event; while public documents demonstrate an admission of fraud by Boeing.
“These issues will be considered by the Coroner at the Inquest and the families will be seeking a verdict of unlawful killing.
“Like so many on board flight ET302, the British victims were people of great talent and they are a loss to their respective professions as much as to family and friends.
“Evidence relating to clarification of current procedure and future recommendations will be provided at the inquest by the CAA and if during the hearing any further issues are identified, it’s vital those lessons are learned and put into effect.
“The main aim of the families is that the truth becomes known so no one else has to suffer the way they have - and that the travelling public is safer as a consequence.” Vincent Nichol, Solicitor
On 7 January 2021, the US Government charged Boeing with conspiracy to defraud the US in relation to the certification process of the new 737 MAX series aircraft. It’s alleged that certain software characteristics of the MAX (the MCAS system) were concealed from the regulator.
The erroneous activation of the MCAS system caused the deaths of 346 people in the loss of Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March 2019.
Joanna Toole was a 36-year-old United Nations consultant when she died on board ET302. Sam Pegram was working for the Norwegian Refugee Council.
Mark Pegram, the father of Sam Pegram, said: “It’s been over four years since the crash but at last the inquest is happening.
“In that time, the worldwide ban on the Max 8 was lifted by civil aviation authorities and in the US we’ve seen moves to give Boeing immunity from criminal prosecution before publication of the accident report or the British inquest.
“The inquest now gives us a chance to establish the facts and we need this for all of us to finally be able to get answers. It’s the least my son Sam and others on that flight deserve
Joanna Toole’s father, Adrian Toole, added: “The delays up to this point have been completely unacceptable but now with the Inquest there’s an opportunity to get at the answers we all need.
“All the families have ever asked for is truth and transparency and this inquest will be a key part of seeing that realised.
“Joanna was a star, a selfless, special person, with a big heart and a passion to improve the lives of animals and the environment. She touched all who knew her and her loss is incalculable.
A verdict of unlawful killing would go a long way to making it clear that those responsible will be identified and the concerns of so many of us finally addressed.”
The inquest is due to start on Monday 10 July and is expected to last for 1 day.
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting families affected by the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy and other air crashes at our aviation section.