Officers get stripped of command following vile RAF 'initiation'

Officers get stripped of command following vile RAF ‘initiation’: Senior military suspended following alleged sex abuse at air force base, Defence Secretary confirms

  • Footage obtained by Daily Mail appeared to show alleged sex abuse at RAF base 
  • Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said officers have been suspended after exposé
  • Added unit to be disbanded – decision likely to have been taken before the report

Senior military officers have been stripped of their command following a devastating Daily Mail exposé on alleged sex abuse at an RAF base.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said yesterday that officers from the regiment had been suspended after this newspaper exposed an appalling abuse of a naked airman during an initiation ceremony.

Last week the Daily Mail obtained footage of the man being held down by rowdy, drunken troops who spat mouthfuls of lager at his backside before lowering a four foot-long mortar barrel weighing 28lb behind him. 

Daily Mail obtained footage of the man being held down by rowdy, drunken troops who spat mouthfuls of lager at his backside before lowering a four foot-long mortar barrel weighing 28lb behind himl (pictured) 

The weapon’s ball-shaped socket was then used on the airman as his colleagues violently slapped his buttocks.

The disturbing video was shot recently at an RAF base in the UK but the squadron cannot be named for legal reasons.

The Defence Secretary also confirmed that this unit is to be disbanded – though this decision is likely to have been taken before the Mail’s report on Saturday. 

Mr Wallace added that the ‘victims’ of the incident were being offered support.

Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 the act of ‘assault by penetration’ carries a custodial sentence. A key issue in such cases is consent. 

It will be for military police to determine whether or not the airman was forced to go through with what appears to have been a grotesque ordeal.

The RAF’s Special Investigation Branch launched a criminal investigation on Friday.

But ahead of its conclusions Mr Wallace told the Commons: ‘We were appalled by the reporting we saw of the incident involving members of the RAF Regiment at the weekend.

The weapon’s ball-shaped socket was then used on the airman as his colleagues violently slapped his buttocks

‘The Chief of the Air Staff and I had a discussion about the incident over the weekend and he has, with my support, acted quickly. 

He has removed officers from the immediate chain of command without prejudice pending the findings of a police investigation and the unit involved will be disbanded with immediate effect.’

Last night the head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, spoke of his anger over the incident and launched two inquiries which will run alongside the criminal investigation.

He said: ‘Many of you will have seen coverage at the weekend of a deplorable incident involving members of the RAF Regiment. Many of you have contacted me personally saying how appalled you are and I share your anger.’

He added: ‘This incident does not represent our Royal Air Force. We are so much better than that. And that is what I see demonstrated every day in all that we do to serve our country.’

Veterans minister Johnny Mercer tweeted a link to the Mail’s report and said: ‘There is zero tolerance of inappropriate behaviours in the military under this Government.’

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said yesterday that officers from the regiment had been suspended after this newspaper exposed an appalling abuse of a naked airman during an initiation ceremony

RAF Regiment personnel protect air bases and during the UK’s long military campaign in Afghanistan its men defended Camp Bastion, the main British base in Helmand.

This role requires its troops to be proficient in military skills more commonly taught to army soldiers, including how to load and accurately fire mortars.

It is thought the airmen in the video were learning to use the 81mm variant of the mortar weapon system. 

The 75-second clip has raised fears that initiation ceremonies – which the Ministry of Defence has tried to stamp out in military units – remain a common occurrence.

Last July Mr Wallace launched an anti-bullying 24/7 telephone helpline for personnel across the Army, Royal Navy and RAF.

In 2019 Royal Marines taking part in a multi-national exercise to prepare for any future conflict with Russia scrawled a Nazi swastika on the chest of a comrade in another such ceremony, which was filmed on a mobile phone and shared online.

In 2016 Army private Oliver Scudder launched legal action against the MoD after he was forced to quit the ranks due to injuries sustained in a violent initiation ceremony.

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