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Tributes to millionaire peer who died in Helicopter crash

Lord Ballyedmond Credit: UTV

Tributes have been coming in to the Northern Irish Conservative peer Lord Ballyedmond who died in the helicopter crash at Gillingham last night.

Stormont Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, said. "Without doubt, Lord Ballyedmond was one of Northern Ireland's most successful entrepreneurs.

"He was known for his leadership, integrity and global vision. One of a kind and a self made businessman, he was both highly regarded and widely respected by all those who knew him."

Investigation will start with focus on helicopter pilot

An Agusta Westland AW139 Credit: PA

The helicopter involved in last night's accident was an Agusta Westland AW139 but exactly what journey was involved is still to be determined.

What will emerge from the investigation by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) team will be the type of flying qualification held by the pilot.

Many helicopter pilots are permitted to fly only in good-visibility conditions during the day, with others being permitted to fly at night in good conditions.

Some pilots are qualified to fly using visual-aid instruments so that they are able to take to the skies when there is cloud, or poor visibility.

David Learmount, operations and safety editor of Flight Global said:

"Helicopter flying is usually done under clear-visual conditions. Helicopters are much more difficult to fly than aeroplanes and much more difficult to fly on instruments than planes.

"You have to be particularly careful if fog is around. It's a hell of a hazard."

The AAIB will also want to know if there was any communication from the helicopter before or during the flight.

If the helicopter had taken off from a private helipad in good conditions, then the pilot would not have needed any permission to get airborne.

Mr Learmount said the Norfolk accident had echoes of the helicopter crash in south London last year when experienced pilot Pete Barnes, 50, was killed when his aircraft clipped a high-rise crane in Vauxhall.

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Northern Ireland's richest man owned Gillingham Hall

Lord Ballyedmond Credit: UTV

Tributes have been paid to Northern Irish Conservative peer Lord Ballyedmond, who was one of four men killed when a helicopter crashed in thick fog in Norfolk last night.

Lord Ballyedmond, one of the richest men in Northern Ireland, was chairman of Norbrook, the largest privately owned pharmaceutical company in the world.

Gillingham Hall Credit: Mike Page

Known as Edward Haughey until he was made a life peer in 2004, he owned Gillingham Hall, a stately home near the crash site, according to the Register of Lords' Interests.

The AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter came down in thick fog in a field in Gillingham, near Beccles, at 7.30pm yesterday.

The village of Gillingham, close top where the helicopter came down Credit: Mike Page

All four helicopter crash victims were men

Police at Gillingham in Beccles where a helicopter has crashed. Credit: ITV News Anglia.

All four people killed in a helicopter crash on the Norfolk and Suffolk border last night were men, police have confirmed.

The aircraft, which was an Augusta Westland AW139 helicopter, came down in thick fog at about 7.30pm in a field off the A143 at Gillingham, near Beccles.

Just one of the victims has been named so far - Northern Irish peer Lord Ballyedmond, who owns Gillingham Hall.

He was the chairman of Norbrook, one of the largest privately owned pharmaceutical company's in the world.

Police said the crash site covered a "considerable area" and a significant cordon remains around the area.

Ch Supt Bob Scully, of Norfolk Police, said: " Limited investigations have taken place so far due to the dark, cold and foggy conditions.

"However with daylight and hopefully clearer conditions a more detailed examination of the crash site can get underway.

"At this time we do not know when the aircraft will be recovered. It is important that the public stay away from the area."

Police detail road closures around crash site

Police have released details of the road closures around the area where the helicopter crashed last night.

The closures will be in place throughout the morning rush hour.

The following closures are in place:

· A146 is closed at the Gillingham roundabout (McDonalds)

· A143 from Great Yarmouth is closed at Waterloo

· A146 Norwich Road is closed where it meets the junction with the A143, known as the Stockton roundabout

· Rectory Road, which leads of the A146 Norwich Road, is also closed.

Police teams search crash site

Police search teams look for fragments of wreckage Credit: ITV News Anglia

Police teams are searching a wide area near the scene of the helicopter crash which has claimed four lives on the Norfolk border with Suffolk.

Inspector Louis Provart from Norfolk Police is leading the investigation.

He told reporters the emergency services are working together in difficult conditions to secure the scene and carry out an initial investigation into the circumstances of the crash.

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