Women in RAF’s Red Arrows viewed as 'property' as predatory behaviour 'normalised', inquiry finds

1 November 2023, 16:20 | Updated: 1 November 2023, 17:19

Air Chief Marshal Sir Rich Knighton apologised following the findings
Air Chief Marshal Sir Rich Knighton apologised following the findings. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Predatory behaviour towards women in the RAF's Red Arrows was widespread and "normalised", with women viewed as the "property" of an individual or the squadron, an inquiry has heard.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

There was unwanted physical contact, sexual texts and invitations to engage in sexual activity, the inquiry found. There were also two incidents of exposure of genitals.

But the inappropriate behaviour went unchallenged due to "bystander culture" all the way up the chain of command.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Knighton, the head of the Royal Air Force, said he was "appalled" at the findings from the non-statutory inquiry.

He apologised to those who suffered between 2017 and 2021 - after three women raised the alarm to the previous chief of the air.

Moving forward, he vowed to use "the most severe sanctions available" to deal with those using inappropriate behaviour.

Two pilots were dismissed from the Red Arrows and the RAF following an initial investigation in 2022. Five others on the team have faced "administrative actions".

However, none of the allegations reached the threshold for criminal charges, following a separate military police investigation.

Read more: Scramble for supplies with supermarket shelves left bare as people stock up ahead of arrival of Storm Ciarán

Read more: Masked men unleash ‘mice attack’ on third McDonald’s branch amid slew of 'free Palestine' protests at chain

The Red Arrows
The Red Arrows. Picture: Alamy

"I am sorry and offer my unreserved apologies to any individuals that were subjected to unacceptable behaviours during their association with the Red Arrows, particularly the three women who felt they had no option but to raise their complaints directly with my predecessor," Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Knighton said.

"The reports show that during the period investigated, unacceptable behaviours were widespread and 'normalised' on the Red Arrows. These included sexual harassment, bullying and an alcohol-focused culture.

"The situation was compounded by a 'bystander culture', meaning people did not challenge what was happening. The behaviours described by witnesses in the reports have no place in the Royal Air Force - or anywhere else. The findings of the investigations are clear.

"Actions have been taken against a number of individuals, up to and including dismissal from the Service.

"I was appalled when I read the investigations' findings. The behaviour of a minority of individuals has harmed the Squadron's reputation and that of the Royal Air Force. Like my predecessor, I am intent on rebuilding public trust in one of our highest profile units. I know that the current team is working hard to do just that.

"The leadership, air and ground crews of the Red Arrows have undergone many changes since the period covered by the investigations, with few still serving on the Squadron from that time. I have confidence in the command and people of the current Squadron.

"More broadly, I would like to make it very clear today that where appropriate, I will not hesitate to use the most severe sanctions available to me to deal with those whose behaviour harms others."

Read the report in full here.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Ligh-Anne Pinnock's niece, 13, is missing

Urgent search launched for Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock’s missing 13-year-old niece

Abdul Ezedi died by suicide, a coroner has ruled

Clapham chemical attacker Abdul Ezedi drowned himself hours after assaulting a mother and her two daughters

Suella Braverman has said she would vote for Donald Trump if she was a US citizen, claiming "the world will be safer" if the Republican presidential hopeful wins the November election.

Sullea Braverman reveals she would vote for Trump if she were American because 'the world would be safer'

Suella Braverman.

Suella Braverman slams Labour scrapping the Rwanda plan claiming it signals the UK is 'open' to illegal migration

Breaking News

Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary found guilty of directing terrorist organisation Al-Muhajiroun

Zara McDermott opened up about the "extremely distressing" events that occurred behind the scenes at Strictly Come Dancing.

'The line should never be crossed': BBC boss apologises for Strictly Come Dancing abuse controversy

Italy Walkway Collapse

Walkway collapses in Italy housing project, killing two and injuring a dozen

Up to five professionals could face the axe on next year’s Strictly Come Dancing

Long-serving strictly stars could face cull following scandals around alleged abusive behaviour

A man has been left fighting for life after being attacked at Seven Sisters

Man fights for life after stabbing at London Underground station - as two women arrested

The girl's mum, dad, and two little sisters died in the crash along with a motorbike rider and pillion passenger

Orphaned girl, 11, to live with aunt after losing whole family in horror car crash - as fundraiser passes £260,000

Tributes have been paid to Harry Savage after the reality TV star was found dead

Tributes pour in for Harry Savage after reality TV star found dead in home

Three men in suits

Hamas and Fatah sign deal to end years-long rift after talks in China

Crowd of people on a hillside

Death toll in Ethiopia mudslides rises to 157 as search operations continue

The bodycam footage of a black woman getting shot by a white police officer has been released

Shocking bodycam footage shows police shooting black woman dead in her home after she rang 911

Tributes have been paid to Clodagh Phelan who died after falling from a hotel balcony in Majorca

Tributes paid to Irish girl Clodagh Phelan, 11, who died in fall from Majorca hotel balcony

Ex-home sec James Cleverley has branded Yvette Cooper's £700m figure as "nonsense"

'It's nonsense': Former Home Secretary James Cleverly accuses Yvette Cooper of 'making up' £700m Rwanda figure