Inquest of Flt. Lt Sean Cunningham (2014)

Tom Kark QC and Polly Dyer both of QEB Hollis Whiteman Chambers represented Flt Lt Cunningham's family together with Keith Barrett of Irwin Mitchell.

Coroner Stuart Fisher delivered his verdict today at the inquest of Flt Lt Sean Cunningham, the Red Arrows pilot who was ejected from his aircraft whilst it was still on the ground.

Read media report HERE.

The family issued the following statement to the media:


Our Son Sean died aged 35 doing what he loved which was flying with the Red Arrows.  From the age of 17, he had wanted nothing more than to join the Royal Air Force and serve his country, which he did with utmost pride and sense of duty.  He served a number of tours in Iraq flying Tornados in close air support of coalition forces.  Sean’s death was a tragedy which we hope the evidence revealed in this Inquest, will help to avoid in the future. 

We are very grateful to the Coroner Mr Fisher for allowing a full exploration of how this tragic death occurred. 

We would also like to thank our wonderful and dedicated legal team, Tom Kark QC & Polly Dyer from QEB Hollis Whiteman and Keith Barrett from Irwin Mitchell, for helping us in testing the evidence presented to the Coroner of this Inquest, so as to reveal the full details and background leading up to Sean’s death on 8 November 2011.

We still find it difficult to accept that so many people could have missed, between Sean’s last sortie on Friday and the following Tuesday, what should have been obvious to those having a duty to ensure the safety of the seat, and we remain unconvinced as to that aspect of the Coroner’s finding.

Nevertheless we accept that how the seat firing handle came to be in a position where it could be inadvertently activated may never be fully understood.  

We welcome the conclusions of the Coroner which confirm what we knew all along, which is that Sean was blameless & his tragic death was preventable.  We therefore welcome the Coroner’s recommendations, which we hope and pray will ensure that no family such as ours, has to endure such a pointless and avoidable death.

We would appreciate your co-operation in allowing our family to have some privacy at this time.





Tom Kark QC questions ejection seat company about safety issue at the inquest of Red Arrows pilot Sean Cunningham.

Tom Kark QC, at the inquest of Red Arrows pilot Sean Cunningham, asked Michael Cameron, former technical safety instructor at ejection seat manfacturer Martin Baker, about the history of a potential problem caused by over tightening a nut and bolt on the seat which, Mr Cameron admitted, he believed the company had been aware of for 20 years.

Tom Kark QC and Polly Dyer represent the family of Red Arrow Flt. Lt Sean Cunningham who died after being ejected from his plane whilst it was still on the ground the inquest has heard. The inquest continues.

Read the BBC's report published 9th January HERE.

Read the BBC's report published 20th January HERE.