Thursday 29 October 2009

The Ten Guilty Men

Senior RAF officers were urged to resign last night after a damning independent review of the Nimrod disaster over Afghanistan three years ago found it was 'entirely preventable'.

The report named 10 top brass and defence industry chiefs -some of whom have already retired - as personally to blame for events leading up to the fire and explosion that destroyed flight XV230 and killed all on board.

Review chairman Charles Haddon-Cave QC criticised the people involved at every level in keeping the ageing surveillance planes in the air and accused the Ministry of Defence of sacrificing safety for cost cuts. He said a review of the Nimrod fleet had been a 'lamentable job' that was 'riddled with errors' and failed to identify key dangers.

Fourteen servicemen (pictured above) died when XV230 crashed near Kandahar in September 2006 because, he said, of a "systemic breach" of the military covenant that require those expected to risk their lives for their country to be treated fairly.

He said financial cuts within the MoD in the wake of the 1998 strategic defence review - ultimately the responsibility of Gordon Brown who was chancellor at the time - had resulted in a cascade of organisational changes that led to 'a dilution of the airworthiness regime and culture within the MoD'.

He also turned on BAE Systems, saying Britain's leading defence manufacturer bore "substantial responsibility" for a safety case that was "poorly planned, poorly managed and poorly executed".

Mr Haddon-Cave also said defence firm QinetiQ bore a "share of responsibility" because it had been "fundamentally lax and compliant" in carrying out its role as independent adviser to the MoD.

Yet we continued to have Defence Secretaries insist the Nimrod was safe to fly after the crash, despite the coroner's call for the entire fleet to be grounded. Some RAF flying personnel decided to leave the service because it was well known the aircraft was not safe and they were also disgusted their bosses supported the government's lies.

QinetiQ was brought in to be a smokescreen for the MoD's cost cutting measures which Gordon Brown requested. They were the MoD's 'yes men' and were happy to be so as long as the cheques continued to flood in.

As yet I haven't read the review as it is several hundred pages long, but I certainly think the ten men, five from the MoD, three from BAE systems and two from QinetiQ, should be tried for manslaughter, but of course that will not happen.

Two of the named officers are still serving - Group Captain George Baber, now promoted to air commodore and Wing Commander Michael Eagles - although they have been moved to different posts. General Sir Sam Cowan and Air Chief Marshal Sir Malcolm Pledger have since retired.

Source: Times


CrazyDaisy said...


I know Mike Eagles personally, he's an honourable man. But then judgement can become clouded when your chasing the next stripe, pity the RAF are only 90 years old!

I knew one of the lads that died he was from the ex's village, sad, but then we are but kings or pawns....


Richard said...

S - if you haven't read the review, all you are doing is retailing someone else's "take".

Anonymous said...

Richard. It has been summarized on every news programme I've heard. Fair enough, Subrosa is taking it second hand if she hasn't read it, but don't most of us do this with almost everything.

How many of us have an opinion on the Lisbon Treaty, for example, and which one of us read it?

Subrosa. I've said for a long time that people high up in the military, the management if you will, should take responsibility for what they do. I realise it's a different world and following orders is far more necessary than in civilian life, but if you know that a plane in not airworthy, no matter how much Secretary of State for Defence tells you to send men up in it, you should not.

And if you're frightened of a wee twot like Aintworth, you really shouldn't be in charge of men's lives or anything else.

CD says it all there. An honourable man who was chasing another stripe. A pay rise, a better pension, a higher position, a gong, a seat in the old people's house.... whatever.

Many junior men have had to pay with their lives for the unwillingness of the senior management to say NO to idiot ignorant political bosses.

I know that I know nothing of the military and I'm likely to get shot down here by people who do, and I know that the military have to put their lives on the line daily...but not because of cheeseparing governments and complicit senior officers please.

I suggest that if you wouldn't ask His Royal Highness the Duck of Rothsay to risk his backside in a plane, then you should't be asking that of Pvt Willie McDougal.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. I really did mean Duke of Rothsay there, but ... well whatever.

As an afterthought. I wonder if Aintworth would like to fly in a dodgy plane that we can't afford to fix?

subrosa said...

We are indeed CD and sadly none responsible will lose much sleep.

subrosa said...

Yes Richard, that's exactly what I've done. Are any of the details wrong?

The majority of my information came first hand from someone who has read the 500+ pages and is, in my opinion, trustworthy.

Obviously there will be more to come out of the report but I will leave that for you to analyse, you do it so much better than me.

subrosa said...

Tris, I had quite a lot of the information in the post first hand from someone I cannot name. I have not had time to read 572 (if I remember rightly) pages of the report.

I know Richard is upset at people blogging from hearsay but some of the details in my post, particularly the names, are all in the report.

banned said...

Is there no way these individuals can be brought to account. What about Health & Safety ? That would apply even to those retired, maybe.

JRB said...

Sorry Subrosa, but I must disagree with your title - I would go further. There are a lot more than just ten guilty men there is a vast legion of guilty men all in the upper echelons of every corner of society.

There is a systemic ‘top down’ rot amongst those who hold high office, a failure in attitude, a failure in morals and a failure in leadership. No longer is simply doing what is ‘correct’ enough, there has developed an insidious ‘protecting our butts’ and ‘passing the buck’ attitude.

This latest Haddon-Cave report brings it into the public eye for a little while. It is a tragic coincidence that this report comes out the same week as the coroners report into the loss of a Puma helicopter, which also highlights administrative ‘shortcomings’.

As I say this loss of morals is not confined to the military or the aviation industry, but can be seen in the recent banking crisis and most damming of all in the recent debacle of MPs expenses. It is an ‘I’m all right Jack’ attitude amongst those whose education and status should tell them different.

It seems impossible not to fall foul of my points of criticism, but if I must ‘pass the buck’ it must land squarely on the desk of Bob Ainsworth – he must go.

For the families of those lost in XV230, Haddon-Cave’s report clearly shows an unquestionable case for negligence, to which the MoD has already admitted liability.
It is more than likely that as a consequence of this report there is now evidence for the relatives to pursue a case of corporate manslaughter against the RAF, MoD, BAe Systems and QinetiQ.

Anonymous said...

SR: I'm sorry, I meant no criticism. I was saying that most of us blog and comment on information gleaned from papers, tv, conversations, etc.

I've never read a full government report in my life and I comment on many of them based on a summary in the Times, the Herald or the Telegraph. (Occasionally, tongue in cheek, the Hootsman.)

I hope you don't think that I was agreeing in any way with Richard. Au contraire. :-)

subrosa said...

Tris sorry if you interpreted my comment the wrong way. I know you weren't agreeing with Richard.

Richard is a little upset I think because the MSM made comments about the report when it was obvious nobody had had the opportunity to read it.

He now has read it by all accounts and I admire him for finding the time and having the skill to plough through the jargon.

I was just telling him my information wasn't only from the Times (which if he had read the Times report he would know that my post held far more information that it did).

I've explained on his blog and do hope he has the courtesy to accept he was brusque.

subrosa said...

I heard last night that the families are considering pursuing a manslaughter charge but on how many I have no idea banned.

They are in talks with their solicitors though.

subrosa said...

Of course you're right John, but only the 10 were named in the report as far as I understand.

Within the military top down rot is not common place, but I've seen it for myself. As CD said in his post, the lure of further promotion and a bigger pension can change a person from a sensible to irresponsible within a short space of time.

I would go further with your "I'm all right Jack" remark and say it is "I'm untouchable Jack" is the motto.

Bob Ainsworth has 'apologised' and thinks he's off the hook. I remember him on television saying the Nimrod was safe and implying the families were just causing trouble by saying otherwise, when it was very well known at the base the the plane wasn't airworthy.

As I said in the post, quite a few (I don't know the exact number) left the service early only because of this.

As I told Tris, I've heard via the media that the families are giving a charge of manslaughter consideration.

Anonymous said...

Ah, that's fine SR. I just wanted you to be sure that I meant no criticism, and I see, reading back that that was what you understood in the first place...

Silly ol me... :-)

I'm glad to hear that they may pursue charges. It really is high time that those at the top accepted responsibility for decisions made for the wrong reasons.

When someone at the top says that a certain piece of kit is safe, at the same time as experts are saying that it is not, then the person at the top (in this case Ain'tworth) should be made to use the equipment themselves. In this case he should have been obliged to make regular flights in these planes... He might have suddenly found a lot of money.

If the MoD didn't waste billions of pounds on stupid kit that isn't suitable for the task and doesn't work, maybe they would have a bit more for things like this.

subrosa said...

Of course Tris, these planes shouldn't be flying. They're old.

The new ones are years behind their delivery schedule and that was part of the problem.

I read somewhere their replacements are to be churned out, albeit slowly, sometime next year.

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