The Royal Air Force illegally discriminated against white male recruits to boost its diversity drive, an official inquiry has concluded, as Air Chief Sir Richard Knighton “apologised unreservedly” to all those affected. GB News has more.
A 72-page report ordered by former RAF head Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston revealed ex-recruitment chief Lizzy Nicholl, who quit over the furore, was right to raise concerns about the so-called positive action plan.
Group Captain Nicholl received legal advice in 2022 which suggested the RAF’s recruitment activities were in breach of the Equality Act 2010.
The report said: “We found that concerns were raised at the time by R&S [recruitment and selection] staff but that those who led the initiatives believed that they were ‘pushing the boundaries’ of positive action rather than acting unlawfully.”
It added: “We found that the chain of command’s reaction to the former Group Capt R&S was overly defensive and not properly considered whether she might have been justified in what she said regarding previous acts of positive discrimination or the legality of what she was asked to do; and that insufficient effort had been made to determine the facts.”
The report also criticised senior figures in the RAF for not utilising reliable forecasts when setting ambitious targets to increase the number of female and ethnic minority recruits.
The RAF had pushed to fast-track ethnic minority and female recruits into training slots in both 2020 and 2021.
More than 30 men have also been identified as having missed out on a a potential £5,000 “golden handshake” to start cyber roles in the RAF.
The report cleared the RAF of the bullying allegations but concluded that Group Captain Nicholl had been right to call out the illegal recruitment practices.
The impacted individuals are reportedly being compensated by the aerial branch of the British Armed Forces.
Responding to the report, Air Chief Sir Richard Knighton “apologised unreservedly” to all those affected.
He added: “We accept that some men were discriminated against.”