Iroquois crash inquiry 'relief'

SHANE COWLISHAW
Last updated 05:00 12/09/2012
Faces of 2010
NZDF

DANIEL GREGORY, BENJAMIN CARSON and HAYDEN MADSEN: Flying Officer Daniel Stephen Gregory, pilot, 28; Corporal Benjamin Andrew Carson, helicopter crewman, 25, and Flight Lieutenant Hayden Peter Madsen, pilot, 33, were killed when the Iroquois helicopter they were flying to Anzac Day activities crashed.

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An independent inquiry into the Anzac Day Iroquois crash has been welcomed as "long overdue" by parents of the dead crew.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said he would set up the inquiry overseeing the Defence Force's response to the accident, after a court of inquiry investigation released last December criticised the air force's risk-taking culture.

The 2010 accident claimed the lives of Flight Lieutenant Hayden Madsen, Flying Officer Daniel Gregory and Corporal Ben Carson.

Sergeant Stevin Creeggan, who survived the crash but suffered serious injuries, is trying to prosecute the Defence Force for its alleged failure to protect the welfare of an employee in the workplace.

Last month The Dominion Post reported that an air force officer had been convicted by a military court on a charge relating to the crash, but later had the conviction overturned on appeal.

That man was yesterday revealed as former squadron leader Rob Stockley.

Mr Stockley, who has left the Defence Force, said that in an email sent in November 2009 he raised safety issues about the crews flying Iroquois from Ohakea air base.

He accused senior air force staff of looking for a "scapegoat" and was concerned crew in the other helicopters in the Anzac Day flight could face charges.

Andrew Carson, who lost his son in the crash, said news of an independent inquiry was a relief.

Both he and wife Pauline had been asking for it for the past year, making the request not only to Dr Coleman but to Prime Minister John Key and the justice and police ministers.

"At least we may start to get a wee bit of honesty about what went wrong and the people responsible."

Mr Carson said he would like the inquiry to be completely free of Defence Force interference, preferably under police control.

Any charges should include not only those responsible on the day but also anyone guilty of covering up after the crash, he said.

Dr Coleman said his inquiry would ensure all 27 recommendations made by the court of inquiry were followed up. He would meet officials this week and decide on terms of reference.

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- The Dominion Post

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