Red Arrows members accused of bullying, misogyny and sexual harassment
Members of the Red Arrows are being investigated over allegations of “unacceptable behaviour” such as misogyny, bullying and sexual harassment.
The Times said more than 40 personnel, including young female recruits, have provided 250 hours of evidence to an inquiry which began earlier this year, describing the aerobatic display team as “toxic”.
A source in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed a number of personnel with the Red Arrows are the subject of an investigation into inappropriate behaviour but none has met the threshold for criminal charges.
Armed forces minister James Heappey told Times Radio that some have been removed from the display team for this season.
The Times said alleged victims were told that if they spoke up they would be sent home or kicked out of the RAF.
The newspaper reported that senior leaders “swept complaints under the carpet” for years to protect the reputations of people considered “untouchable”.
Members of the Red Arrows, based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, have also been accused of drunkenness, but an RAF spokeswoman said the allegations were “unfounded”.
Mr Heappey told Times Radio he was confident that Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston and his team were investigating the allegations.
He said: “The very highest of standards are demanded of our armed forces across the board, and 99.99% of them deliver in spades.
“Those who have the privilege of serving in an organisation like the Red Arrows have, I think, an even greater responsibility because they are so much in the public eye – and the allegations that have been made are very concerning indeed.
“The Royal Air Force have taken, I think, the right action in that they have got those against whom these allegations have been made under investigation.
“I’m confident that the Chief of the Air Staff and his team are investigating these allegations – they’ve taken action to remove them from the display team for this season.
“We’ll wait until those investigations are complete before the individuals responsible are held to account.”
An MoD source said the inquiry’s final report is with RAF leaders for their consideration.
It is understood that none of the pilots currently on the team are accused of wrongdoing.
An RAF spokeswoman said: “The RAF has a zero-tolerance approach to unacceptable behaviour and takes action wherever wrongdoing is proven.
“Following allegations of unacceptable behaviour within the Red Arrows, the RAF commissioned a thorough and far-reaching investigation.
“We will not be commenting further on the individual circumstances of specific personnel moves, which have been made without prejudice and are the result of both personal and professional reasons.
“The allegations of Red Arrows pilots flying while intoxicated are unfounded.
“All RAF pilots, in the Red Arrows or otherwise, are subject to strict regulations on alcohol consumption before conducting any flying.
“Safety remains paramount and any pilot found to have breached those regulations would simply not be permitted to fly, and would face disciplinary action.”Published: by Radio NewsHub