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UK News Desk

British military top brass run a force rife with sexism, racism and bullying, new report claims

British military top brass are ‘a pack of white middle-aged men’ who should be sent for diversity training because the armed forces are rife with sexism, racism and bullying, new report says

  • Study finds ‘unacceptable level of inappropriate behaviour across forces
  • It also said leaders are ‘not used to serving along people from diverse groups’ 
  • Report conducted by incoming Chief of the Air Staff Chief Marshal Mike Wigston
  • Commissioned in April after sexual harassment allegations against the Army

Military chiefs are a ‘pack of white middle-aged men’ who run a force awash with sexism, racism and bullying, an explosive new report claims.

The study, the most in-depth the armed forces has ever commissioned, says ‘an unacceptable level of inappropriate behaviour persists’ across the RAF, Army and Navy.

It also describes its leaders as a ‘generation not used to having people from other diversity groups serving alongside them’ and their actions were ‘shaped by an armed forces of 20 years ago’.

The report was conducted by Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, the incoming Chief of the Air Staff.

The report was conducted by Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, the incoming Chief of the Air Staff.

The report was conducted by Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, the incoming Chief of the Air Staff.

It was commissioned in April after accusations of sexual harassment were put against the Army.

Who is the incoming Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston?

Mike Wigston was born in February 1968 and grew up in Bangor, Wales, where he went to a comprehensive school before going on to study engineering science at Oxford.

He joined the Royal Air Force in 1986 as a fighter pilot and was promoted through the ranks, becoming a flight lieutenant by 1992. 

By 2000 he took over No.12 Squadron and its Tornado fighters, which he commanded during operations in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, reaching the rank of wing commander by July 2003.

After continuing to lead the squadron and provide air support in Iraq, Wigston was promoted again in 2008 to take over No. 903 Expeditionary Air Wing which provided air support in Afghanistan from Camp Bastion.

His services to the forces were recognised with a CBE in 2013 and a promotion to air-vice marshal followed in 2015, giving him command of RAF forces in Cyprus.

During this time, he presided over the first same-sex marriage on an overseas forces’ base when he performed the ceremony for Army sergeant Alastair Smith and his civilian partner Aaron Weston. 

Wigston’s rise to the top continued with a promotion to assistant chief of the air staff in 2017 before taking over the strategic planning of RAF resources as deputy commander of capability in 2018.

Last December it was announced he would replace Sir Stephen Hillier as head of the RAF later this month. 

After the allegations, Chief of the General Staff General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith made an unprecedented three-minute film, in which he claimed behaviours were ‘wildly at odds’ with expected standards.

The paper said every senior officer from brigadier level and above should be sent on compulsory diversity training courses.

It also states a culture and behaviour tsar should be appointed to head a team of 50 personnel to manage the strategy of modernisation and manage complaints.

The report says leaders are responsible for tackling inappropriate behaviour.

Out of all bullying, harassment and discrimination Service Complaints received in 2018, 39 per cent were from BAME personnel while 24 per cent were from white troops.

A third of LGBT Service personnel have faced negative comments or behaviour from colleagues because of their sexual orientation while at work.

The report says the way senior officers act towards their subordinates is ‘rarely considered to be malicious, rather perpetuated by a lack of understanding and education’.

It also says that while ‘microaggressions’, an indirect or subtle discrimination, may be unintentional they can still be insulting.

Major General Julian Thompson said the idea of a champion for culture and behaviour made him ‘wince’.

He told The Daily Telegraph: ‘He’s right to highlight a problem but surely it’s better to crack down on people who do it, although you don’t want to be too draconian. 

‘Recruits these days are less robust, but that’s our society and you’ve got to deal with what you’ve got.’

The paper uses figures from the latest Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey. It states that 12 per cent of those surveyed said they were the victim of bullying, harassment or discrimination in the last 12 months, but only six per cent made a formal complaint.

The majority of those who didn’t complain said they didn’t think any action would be taken. Half said speaking out could be a detriment to their career.

Penny Morduant, pictured outside Downing Street last week, said: ‘Whether it is crude comments, discriminatory treatment, or even offences of a sexual nature, inappropriate behaviour has no place in society, let alone in our armed forces’

Penny Morduant, pictured outside Downing Street last week, said: ‘Whether it is crude comments, discriminatory treatment, or even offences of a sexual nature, inappropriate behaviour has no place in society, let alone in our armed forces’

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt told The Daily Telegraph: ‘Whether it is crude comments, discriminatory treatment, or even offences of a sexual nature, inappropriate behaviour has no place in society, let alone in our armed forces.’

Air Chief Marshal Wigston said most armed forces personnel are above board but his report ‘found an unacceptable and persistent level of inappropriate behaviour’ which ‘harms people, damages our reputation and almost certainly impacts our ability to attract and retain the talent we need.’

Campaign group Liberty said more should be done to figure out why minority personnel are complaining of bullying, harassment and discrimination.

A spokesman said: ‘Air Marshall Wigston has covered a lot of ground and made some important recommendations. But this review does nothing to help victims of sexual crime in the armed forces.’

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News | Mail Online

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