Pilots with a history of depression should not be banned from flying, a leading British psychiatrist has said warning against a rushed 'Shipman-style' reaction to the French Alps air disaster.

Reports have suggested Andreas Lubitz had suffered from mental health issues before he steered the Germanwings Airbus A320 into the mountain range, killing all 150 people on board.

But Professor Sir Simon Wessely, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych), told the Observer the aviation industry should not "rush" to action in the wake of the crash.

He said that the move would be similar to the policies put in place following the murders carried out by Dr Harold Shipman, who is thought to have killed between 215 and 260 people.

It is not a good idea to rush; it is like the response to Dr Shipman, an utterly bizarre and unpredictable event is not a good basis of policy. The procedures that they then brought in would not have prevented Shipman.

Professor Sir Simon Wessely

Philip Bramley, whose son Paul, 28, was one of the three Britons on board the Dusseldorf-bound flight, said yesterday: "I believe the airlines should be more transparent and our finest pilots looked after properly. We put our lives and our children's lives in their hands."