The inquest into the deaths of 11 men who were killed at the Shoreham Air Show in August 2015, have now concluded (20 December 2022).

David Manknell represented the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, instructed by GLD.

The men lost their lives in August 2015 when a Hawker Hunter plane taking part in an air display crashed into the A27. It was the worst air show accident in the United Kingdom since the 1952 Farnborough Airshow disaster.

The inquests were resumed in 2019 following the pilot’s acquittal in a criminal trial for gross negligence manslaughter. The final inquest hearings took place in November-December 2022.

Earlier this year, the High Court refused the Senior Coroner’s application to the High Court, in which David also represented the AAIB, rejecting arguments that the Coroner should reinvestigate matters already investigated by the AAIB. The High Court had confirmed that the Coroner should treat findings and conclusions of the AAIB’s investigation as the cause of the accident.

As a result of the High Court’s ruling, the Coroner heard limited further evidence, with the AAIB Inspectors providing oral evidence to explain the findings and conclusions of the AAIB.

The Senior Coroner reached a conclusion of unlawful killing in respect of the deaths, based on gross negligence manslaughter. Her decision was reached on the civil standard of proof, in accordance with the Supreme Court’s decision in R(on the application of Maughan) v Her Majesty’s Senior Coroner for Oxfordshire [2020] UKSC 46, and as a result was not considered to be inconsistent with the acquittal in the criminal trial.

The inquest also heard evidence of the significant changes that have been made in respect of the regulation and licensing of air shows in the UK since the disaster. The Senior Coroner stated that in light of the comprehensive safety recommendations made by the AAIB and their subsequent implementation by the CAA, that she did not consider it necessary for her to make any report for the prevention of future deaths herself.

The conclusion of the inquest has received substantial media coverage: