Toxic’ behaviour in the Red Arrows saw female pilot quit


Now, after the Aerobatic team’s largest scandal in its 57-year history, a female member of the team has said she felt she was forced to quit after she made a complaint about harassment and bullying. According to an RAF source, the officer, in her early thirties, was welcomed into the team earlier this year but issued a complaint to her seniors after just six months about behaviour which made her feel “uncomfortable”.

The complaint was over the woman’s concerns of the “toxic” environment in the team which was about her time in the Red Arrows until the summer.

The female member complained about a string of problems in the team of approximately 130 people.

Following the reports of the initial complaints which were revealed by The Times, over 40 personnel from the Red Arrows, including a number of female recruits, gave evidence to an inquiry.

As a result, as many as four members of the RAF may be removed from the force following an investigation and the display team is now running its skeleton team.

The accusations included a minimum of 13 cases of alleged misconduct, including misogyny, harassment, sexual assault, bullying and indecent exposure, however, it is not yet known when the inquiry will be completed and if it will be made public.

One of the individuals who gave evidence to the inquiry, which was launched in December, told The Times that individuals in the team “got away with everything”.

Another added that new female recruits to the squadron were seen as “fresh meat” and she added: “At the moment many females are at risk because there are numerous toxic pockets within the air force but there is no urgency to act.”

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A source from the RAF said: “Although things have happened since the last story came to light, the toxic behaviour is still going on and not enough is being done about it.”

The latest claim will be of great concern to the prestigious display team as the behaviour mentioned in included within the time frame when a number of servicemen were already removed due to allegations of unsuitable behaviour.

The grievance also directly conflicts with the RAF’s claims that the issues of misconduct were issues of the past.

One of the sources spoke to The Times about the initial inquiry said that the allegations about the squadron were just the “tip of the iceberg”.

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The founder of the Independent Defence Authority (IDA), Philip Ingram said that he was “aware of the issues highlighted by this young officer” and that he “remains concerned that there is no real change in the culture in the Red Arrows”.

He added: “I intended to write to Sir Mike Wigston [the air chief marshal who is head of the RAF] with my concerns around this case, as it continues to highlight a failure in command and culture suggesting nothing has changed from what the IDA brought to his attention over a year ago.”

The RAF issued a statement: “The RAF has a zero-tolerance approach to unacceptable behaviour and will complete through investigations into any allegations and take appropriate action.

“However, we will not offer comment on the circumstances of individual personnel moves.”





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