Red Arrows under 'intense scrutiny’ after damning sexual harassment report, defence minister says

The Red Arrows Credit: PA

The Red Arrows have been "put on notice" after reports of women being plied with alcohol, treated like property and harassed for sex, were published last month.

Defence minister Andrew Murrison told the defence committee that the team are under the "most intense scrutiny" of any UK defence team and "are best described as being in special measures".

A report published earlier this month found the campaign of bullying, sexual harassment and predatory behaviour was "widespread and normalised" in the squadron - with female personnel forced to form groups known as "shark watch" to protect themselves at social events.

Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Rich Knighton, offered his "unreserved apologies" following the report's release, and said he was "appalled" its findings.

Addressing the report's conclusions, Mr Murrison told the committee: "The Red Arrows have been put on notice - there's no question about that.

"I think they are best described as being in 'special measures' following this performance.

"Now, they are subject to the most intense scrutiny, I think, of any part of defence at the moment, and none of them can be under any misapprehension about what is expected of them."

The minister for defence people, veterans and service families continued: "I'm comforted in the knowledge that there has been significant churn since this happened - so we have a fresher slate of people who now populate this organisation."

"You will also know that RAF Scampton, their home, has now closed and they've gone elsewhere.

"And you'll also be aware that there are ongoing climate assessments of this organisation to make sure that they are where we want them to be.

The RAF Red Arrows display team perform over the sea. Credit: PA

"No part of defence, including the Red Arrows, can expect special treatment despite their high profile, if they start to tarnish the good name of defence and give entirely the wrong impression to the to the public that they serve, and in particular, those who may be tempted to join the armed forces," he added.

Evidence of possible criminal behaviour was passed to the service police, but they were unable to gather sufficient evidence to begin prosecutions.

The non-statutory inquiry, launched in 2021, found examples dating back to 2017 of team members flashing their genitals, several extra-marital affairs and one case of criminal battery.

The report added that it was highly likely women had to deal with being hounded for sex, unwanted physical contact and derogatory comments about their appearance.

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