Page last updated at 19:29 GMT, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Reaction to Nimrod crash report

Fourteen servicemen died when a Nimrod exploded in mid-air in 2006

An independent review of the 2006 RAF Nimrod crash that killed 14 military personnel has delivered a damning verdict.

Charles Haddon-Cave QC, who carried out the investigation, ruled that the incident was preventable and singled out two chiefs of defence logistics for the part they played in allowing it to happen.

Relatives of those who died, along with politicians and other figures have given their reaction to the criticism.


Mr Knight, whose son Ben died in the Nimrod crash, called for the two senior military commanders named in the report to be court martialled.

He also said he would like to see Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth resign.

"All the guys out in Afghanistan are working 100%," he said.

"It's the people who are behind them, the MoD, RAF, procurement.... they are just not doing their jobs properly and not giving them the support they deserve."

Mr Knight said he had always felt that the crash was "avoidable" and was pleased that Mr Haddon-Cave had come to the same conclusion.


Addressing the House of Commons, Mr Ainsworth apologised to the relatives of those killed, saying the review would make "very distressing reading" for them.

"The subtitle of this report, 'A failure of leadership, culture and priorities', is a stark judgement," he said.

"Mr Haddon-Cave has been critical of both the MoD and our industrial partners at both organisation and individual level.

"Mr Haddon-Cave also states that in our pursuit of financial savings the MoD and RAF allowed their focus on safety to suffer.

"As a department we have a duty to continue to seek efficiencies in how we deliver defence. However, I am absolutely clear that this must not be done with any detriment to safety."

Mr Ainsworth promised to do "everything in my power" to prevent a similar incident from happening again.


Also speaking in the Commons, Mr Fox said the report was a "formidable indictment" and "there could not be a more damning charge list".

"This report must act as a wake-up call for all of us: for politicians, for industry and the military," he said. "Cutting corners costs lives.

"You cannot fight wars on a peacetime budget and there is a moral imperative that those who are willing to risk their lives in the armed service of their country should know that at all times everything is being done to maximise the chance of success of their mission and to minimise their risk in carrying it out.

"As the report concludes, in my view, the aircraft was lost because of a systemic breach of the military covenant brought about by significant failures on the part of all those involved."


Mr Harvey also gave his reaction to the Commons: "This has been a case of wake-up calls from previous incidents not being heeded.

"The report is also damning of an industry which it accuses of incompetence, complacency and cynicism, and I believe that while there is always danger in flying military aircraft, some of this was unnecessary and avoidable."


Gp Capt Robbie Noel is station commander at RAF Kinloss in Moray, the base which lost the 14 crewmen killed over Afghanistan.

The men had been "friends and colleagues", he said, who now "serve as an inspiration to me and all my people at Kinloss in discharging our duties - they are never far from our minds".

He highlighted the report's conclusion that the accident had been preventable.

"This only serves to increase my determination to do everything within my gift to best serve those who maintain the aircraft, those who operate it, and those, including our families and the local community, on whose support we depend entirely," he said.

"I and my people at Kinloss remain determined to serve the memory of those lost over Afghanistan; we can best do that by continuing to learn the lessons and to minimise any risks to the greatest extent possible."


Retired Flt Lt Mr Jones, who worked on the Nimrod fleet in the 1960s, said the review's conclusions would be welcomed by the families of those who died.

"I think they will be well pleased with this report, which is very hard-hitting.

"Personally, I would like to have seen it go a bit higher, maybe it should have gone to ministerial level as well, with people like Bob Ainsworth and Des Browne being affected, but that's my opinion."

Mr Jones agreed with Mr Haddon-Cave that there had been a change in culture within the military which meant engineers who raised concerns were not always listened to.

"Now when there's a call for a modification there's a delicate balance, can we afford it?" he said.


Angus Robertson, the MP for Moray, whose constituency is home to the RAF Nimrod fleet at Kinloss, has criticised the MoD and demanded assurances that lessons would be learned from the "detailed and hard-hitting" report.

Mr Robertson said: "For the families of the 14 servicemen I hope it will provide answers and some closure, but evidence of glaring failures and that this tragedy was preventable will be difficult to bear. The conclusions are clearly too late for those airmen, but what is now crucial is how these lessons are learned.

"Our service personnel must be able to rely on their equipment being maintained to the highest standards, and their families must feel safe in the knowledge that their loved ones' safety is a top priority."

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