By Phil ScullionFollow @PhilScullion
Two RAF Chinook pilots blamed for a tragic crash on the Mull of Kintyre in 1994 have today been cleared by an inquiry.
An independent review said there was no evidence that Flight Lieutenants Jonathan Tapper and Richard Cook were at fault and suggested the Ministry of Defence (MoD) apologise to their families.
The pilots had been accused of being "negligent to a gross degree" and thus causing the helicopter accident, which claimed the lives of all twenty nine people onboard.
Defence secretary Liam Fox set up the review as a result of repeated criticisms of the decision to blame the pilots.
He offered his apologies to the pilot's families on behalf of the MoD and said he hoped the conclusion "will bring an end to this chapter by removing this stain on the reputations of the two pilots".
Jim Murphy, Labour's shadow defence secretary, said that whilst previous decisions had been taken "in good faith" those responsible had not been correctly informed.
He continued: "We welcome today's decision that previous conclusions of gross negligence must be set aside and we support and echo the apology offered to the families of the pilots."
Alan Reid, the Liberal Democrat MP whose Argyll and Bute constituency includes the Mull of Kintyre, welcomed the findings, calling the review "long overdue".
He said: "So many people – friends and family of the pilots, my predecessor Ray Mitchie, and others – campaigned for many years to overturn the original verdict which found the two young pilots, who died doing their duty, guilty of gross negligence."
Lord Philip, a retired judge, headed up the review along with three privy counsellors.
The passengers killed included many members of the Northern Ireland security and intelligence community who were travelling to Inverness.
As a result of this Lord Philip said the MoD should "reconsider" its procedure for transporting personnel whose responsibilities are intrinsic to national security.
The conclusions of the review bring an end to a 17-year battle by the families of Fl Lt Tapper and Fl Lt Cook to clear the two pilots' names.