Red Arrows bullying scandal: what are the allegations involving the famous RAF aerobatics display team?

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More than 40 RAF personnel, including young female recruits, have provided 250 hours of evidence to an inquiry into “unacceptable behaviour” within the Red Arrows.

Members of the world-famous Red Arrows are being investigated over allegations of “unacceptable behaviour” such as misogyny, bullying and sexual harassment.

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A source in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed a number of personnel with the Red Arrows are the subject of an investigation into inappropriate behaviour but none has met the threshold for criminal charges.

What are the allegations against Red Arrows members?

More than 40 personnel on the iconic RAF display team have given evidence, which described the Red Arrows as “toxic”.

And inside source told the Times that she wanted to expose a culture at the elite aerobatic team in which female recruits were considered “fresh meat”.

She told the newspaper: “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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The source said that members of the 130-strong squadron would “pester” young recruits and “bombard” them with WhatsApp messages.

The Red Arrows perform over Scarborough. Members of the Red Arrows are being investigated over allegations of "unacceptable behaviour" such as misogyny, bullying and sexual harassment. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA WireThe Red Arrows perform over Scarborough. Members of the Red Arrows are being investigated over allegations of "unacceptable behaviour" such as misogyny, bullying and sexual harassment. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
The Red Arrows perform over Scarborough. Members of the Red Arrows are being investigated over allegations of "unacceptable behaviour" such as misogyny, bullying and sexual harassment. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

At least two Red Arrows personnel are under investigation over allegations of “inappropriate behaviours”, the Times reported.

Another source told the newspaper that the allegations were “tip of the iceberg”.

The Times said alleged victims were told that if they spoke up they would be sent home or kicked out of the RAF.

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The newspaper reported that senior leaders “swept complaints under the carpet” for years to protect the reputations of people considered “untouchable”.

Members of the Red Arrows, based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, have also been accused of drunkenness, but an RAF spokeswoman said the allegations were “unfounded”.

An MoD source said the inquiry’s final report is with RAF leaders for their consideration.

It is understood that none of the pilots currently on the team are accused of wrongdoing.

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Armed Forces minister James Heappey. Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty ImagesArmed Forces minister James Heappey. Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Armed Forces minister James Heappey. Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images | Getty Images

What has the Government said about the Red Arrows bullying scandal?

Armed forces minister James Heappey told Times Radio that some have been removed from the display team for this season.

Mr Heappey told Times Radio he was confident that Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston and his team were investigating the allegations.

He said: “The very highest of standards are demanded of our armed forces across the board, and 99.99% of them deliver in spades.

“Those who have the privilege of serving in an organisation like the Red Arrows have, I think, an even greater responsibility because they are so much in the public eye – and the allegations that have been made are very concerning indeed.

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“The Royal Air Force have taken, I think, the right action in that they have got those against whom these allegations have been made under investigation.

“I’m confident that the Chief of the Air Staff and his team are investigating these allegations – they’ve taken action to remove them from the display team for this season.

“We’ll wait until those investigations are complete before the individuals responsible are held to account.”

The Red Arrows at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Credit: GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty ImagesThe Red Arrows at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Credit: GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images
The Red Arrows at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Credit: GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images | AFP via Getty Images

What has the RAF said about the Red Arrows bullying scandal?

An RAF spokeswoman said: “The RAF has a zero-tolerance approach to unacceptable behaviour and takes action wherever wrongdoing is proven.

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“Following allegations of unacceptable behaviour within the Red Arrows, the RAF commissioned a thorough and far-reaching investigation.

“We will not be commenting further on the individual circumstances of specific personnel moves, which have been made without prejudice and are the result of both personal and professional reasons.

“The allegations of Red Arrows pilots flying while intoxicated are unfounded.

“All RAF pilots, in the Red Arrows or otherwise, are subject to strict regulations on alcohol consumption before conducting any flying.

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“Safety remains paramount and any pilot found to have breached those regulations would simply not be permitted to fly, and would face disciplinary action.”

Who are the Red Arrows?

It is the aerobatics display team of the Royal Air Force.

The team was founded in late 1964 and replaced the unofficial display teams operating at that time.

Fast forward nearly 60 years and the Red Arrows are one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams.

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The Red Arrows have been performing as a seven plane strong team at displays in 2022, however there was a full team of nine for the Jubilee.

How fast do the Red Arrows go?

The Red Arrows have a maximum speed of 645 mph.

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