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.