Sex pest behaviour found rife in Red Arrows with booze-fuelled genital flashing

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    A Probe into the high-flying Red Arrows display team found predatory behaviour towards women was “widespread and normalised.”

    Examples included unwanted physical contact, sexual texts, invitations to engage in sexual activity and women being seen as “property.” The display team performs striking routines in Hawk fast-jets and, by the beginning of 2023, had performed almost 5,000 displays in 57 countries.

    Chief of the air staff, Sir Richard Knighton, said he was appalled by the findings and “unreservedly” apologised but added that there were no plans to disband the elite team. The non-statutory inquiry into the revered team was launched in 2021 after three women went to the then-head of the RAF about complaints they had made which had not been addressed by their chain of command.

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    The inquiry, covering a period dating back to 2017, noted a “high propensity of extramarital relationships between serving personnel” which may have contributed to a “low opinion of female service personnel.” Defence committee chairman and Tory MP Robert Courts said the inquiry findings showed there were “serious cultural problems running deep within the unit”.

    Deep-rooted problems still persist and must be urgently addressed, he said, adding that the committee will be raising the issues in coming sessions. The RAF admitted part of the problem may have been a view that members of the display team were “special”.

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    There were two incidents of exposure of genitals, the RAF said. The inquiry highlighted a drinking culture – with unacceptable behaviours often fuelled by alcohol.

    Two pilots serving with the Red Arrows were dismissed from the team and the RAF following an initial investigation in 2022. Five other team members, which includes ground staff and a totals 120 personnel, have faced “administrative actions”.

    A separate military police investigation concluded that none of the allegations between 2017 and 2021 warranted criminal charges. The Red Arrows are based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, having moved in 2022 from RAF Scampton.

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