Page last updated at 19:22 GMT, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Nimrod report individuals named

Coffins of the Nimrod crash victims
Most of the victims were from RAF Kinloss in Moray

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, has been critical of both the MoD and its industrial partners at both organisational and individual levels.

In his report, the leading aviation law barrister named 10 individuals who he singled out for special criticism - five at the MoD, three at BAE Systems and two at defence technology firm QinetiQ


Gen Cowan was promoted to a four-star general in September 1998 and appointed the first Chief of Defence Logistics in April 1999.

He was responsible for carrying out the government's plan to unite the separate logistics support agencies for the Royal Navy, Army and RAF into a single Defence Logistics Organisation.

In 2000 he announced a target of reducing costs by 20% by 2005, an aim which Mr Haddon-Cave QC said appears to have been "implemented across the board with a ruthless, if not 'Stalinistic', efficiency".

In his report, Mr Haddon-Cave said Gen Cowan should have realised cutting costs could come at the expense of safety and airworthiness.

Gen Cowan, who left the post in August 2002, is now retired.


Air Chief Marshal Pledger succeeded Gen Cowan as Chief of Defence Logistics in September 2002.

The report noted that he had been, to some extent, "handed a poisoned chalice". Nonetheless, he was among those criticised.

The report suggested he was torn between delivering the 20% cost savings targeted and supporting the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But the report's author said he should have questioned whether it was "feasible, realistic and sensible" to press on with the proposed savings within the same timescale.

The air chief marshal stood down in December 2004. He has since retired.


Group Captain George Baber, who is now an air commodore, was the leader of the Ministry of Defence integrated project team (IPT) responsible for a safety review of the RAF's Nimrods between 2001 and 2005.

In the report he has been accused of having failed to follow processes he himself introduced and not taking reasonable care in signing off the project.

Mr Haddon-Cave wrote: "He failed to give the NSC (Nimrod safety case) the priority it deserved. In doing so, he failed, in truth, to make safety his first priority."

Following his promotion, Air Commodore Baber still serves with the RAF.


In his role as head of air vehicle for the Nimrod, Wing Commander Michael Eagles was in charge of managing production of the safety review.

However, the report found that he delegated the project "wholesale" to a MoD civilian worker called Frank Walsh, who was too inexperienced to manage it.

Mr Haddon-Cave accused him of failing to "give adequate priority, care and personal attention to the NSC task" and not properly utilising the resources available to him to "ensure the airworthiness of the Nimrod fleet".

The wing commander still serves with the RAF.


Frank Walsh, who worked as safety manager for the Nimrod review and was the MoD's primary point of contact with the BAE Systems team carrying out the work, is said to have assessed hazards himself in a "slapdash" manner and failed to alert his superiors when he realised he had overlooked important issues.

The report states: "Frank Walsh's failure to put his hand up and admit to his superiors that he had overlooked matters, and then effectively to cover over his mistakes, is his most serious failing. In doing so, he failed to act honourably.

"In matters of safety, there can be no compromise on openness and honesty."

However, the report's author noted that he should not have been placed in the position of having to manage the project with little, or no, supervision or guidance.

Mr Walsh no longer works at the Ministry of Defence.


According to the report, Chris Lowe bore the heaviest responsibility for the "poor planning, poor management and poor execution" of the project.

He was chief airworthiness engineer for BAE Systems and was heavily involved in preparing the main documents in the Nimrod safety review.

Mr Haddon-Cave said Mr Lowe "underestimated the nature of the task and overestimated his own abilities", ignoring the fact that the review was flawed and not finished.

In the report, he wrote: "What really mattered was producing an impressive-looking set of reports on time which could be trumpeted by his department as a success.

"He was ultimately prepared to draw a veil over the incomplete nature of the work. The actual content, quality and completeness of the work was not paramount important (sic) because he, like most others, assumed the Nimrod to be 'safe anyway' because of its service history."


Richard Oldfield, leader of the Nimrod review for BAE Systems, is said to have failed to admit to the existence of large gaps in the analysis of possible risks.

The report also accused him of failing to manage the project properly.


BAE's flight systems and avionics manager, Eric Prince, played a key role in the Nimrod safety project.

The report's author said: "He too was prepared to see the customer be given a deliberately misleading impression as to the completeness of the work."


Defence technology firm QinetiQ was the independent adviser for the project. Martyn Mahy was the company's Nimrod review task manager.

The report criticised him for failing to do his job properly in certain key areas and failing to provide any independent assurance.

It also noted that he either signed off, or approved the signing off, of BAE Systems reports without having read them.


Colin Blagrove was technical assurance manager for the Nimrod safety review.

In this role, it was his ultimate responsibility to ensure QinetiQ did not sign off anything unless it was appropriate to do so.

The report concluded that Mr Blagrove had failed in this "critical" task.

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