Widow of killed pilot accuses company of 'obstructing' his inquestFebruary 13, 2023
Widow of former RAF pilot who was killed when his military jet crashed in Italian Alps accuses company who designed the aircraft of ‘obstructing’ his inquest
- David Ashley was on a jet when it crashed into Mount Lagnone in Italy in March
- Heather Ashley has criticised Italian company for not sharing vital documents
The widow of a former RAF pilot who was killed when his military jet crashed in the Alps has slammed the Italian company who designed the aircraft for ‘obstructing’ his inquest.
David Ashley, from Poole, Dorset, was on a training flight in an M-346 Fighter Attack jet when it crashed into Mount Lagnone in Italy in March 2022.
Mr Ashley, 49, was being taken on a training flight with an instructor in the £25m jet at the time of the tragedy.
The Italian pilot, Giampaolo Goattin, who survived, had told Mr Ashley that the aircraft was ‘broken’ eight days before the crash.
An inquest hearing heard that the British investigations into the precise circumstances of Mr Ashley’s death are being held up by issues of sharing documents between Italian prosecutors and the Dorset coroner.
Widow Heather Ashley (right) of RAF pilot David Ashley (left) who was killed when his military jet crashed in the Alps has slammed the Italian company who designed the aircraft for ‘obstructing’ his inquest
Italian company Leonardo SpA is refusing to share evidence for fear of breaching the confidentiality of the Italian preliminary investigation.
Despite making a last minute application to have the British inquest suspended until March 2024, the company was overruled by Dorset coroner Rachael Griffin.
Ms Griffin accused the Italian manufacturers of flagrant ‘disrespect to the court and the family of David Ashley’ by only making the application on Thursday night.
Speaking to Miranda Hill, the lawyer acting for Leonardo SpA, she said: ‘I’m in difficulty because of the prohibition which appears to be being imposed on documents being shared from the Italian public prosecutor to this investigation.
‘I don’t understand why you cannot tell me if Leonardo has the flight logs or even the flight manual. I don’t feel that Leonardo SpA have been a help to me at all.
‘Every order I have given to them they have ignored. You’ve acted in a way that is disrespectful to the court and the family of David.’
David’s wife Heather Ashley praised the British legal system for ensuring that all the information relating to the crash will come out.
Mrs Ashley, said: ‘I’m so relieved that the investigation will continue. I only learnt this morning that Leonardo SpA has been trying to get the investigation suspended.
Ms Ashley (pictured arriving at Bournemouth Town Hall with legal team) praised the British legal system for ensuring that all the information relating to the crash will come out
‘They haven’t been cooperating with the coroner. This hearing has been set since last October, why did they only file their submission at nearly 9pm last night (Thursday 9)?
‘That shows complete disrespect. They showed no respect at all for my husband. Where are their ethics and morals?
‘I’m so relieved that the coroner’s decision was to keep things going and keep making progress. My primary concern throughout all of this is to make sure that it never happens again.
‘They are not assisting and they are clearly obstructing the process. Thank goodness for the UK judicial system. We will get some answers.
‘If they have nothing to hide why are they not cooperating?’
A further hearing which will provide an update to the coroner will be held in September.
Mrs Ashley’s legal representative, James Healy-Pratt, said: ‘Legally I think they are trying to kick this case into the long grass.
‘They have got some Italian lawyer to say that they cannot share evidence and they are refusing to cooperate.
‘They have been trying to keep the genie in the bottle but it is out and it is in this court room.’
Mr Ashley, a father of two and former RAF pilot, was working as an independent contractor for Leonardo SpA and carrying out his first familiarisation training flight when the crash occurred.
He was killed on March 16, 2022 in Colico-Lecco in northern Italy. Both pilots ejected shortly before the aircraft crashed into a mountain.
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