It was a solemn and abject Bob Ainsworth, the Secretary of State for Defence, that stood to give a statement on the independent inquiry into the Nimrod crash today after a loud and raucous Prime Minister's Questions.
He gave a full and unreserved apology to the families of the bereaved for an entirely avoidable catastrophe that led to the biggest single loss of life for the Ministry of Defence since the Falklands War.
The deaths of 14 servicemen in the fireball aboard Nimrod XV230 in September 2006 was entirely preventable and was the result of cost-cutting, slack management and an emphasis on business efficiency models rather than military airworthiness within the MoD and the defence industry that maintained and serviced the aircraft.
In short it wasn't the Taliban that killed the servicemen it was "the suits" who inhabit Bae, QinetiQ and the Ministry of Defence.
Liam Fox, the Conservative shadow Defence Secretary caught the tone well: "Cutting corners costs lives. You cannot fight wars on a peacetime budget and there is a moral imperative that those who are willing to risk their lives in the armed service of their country, should know at all times that everything is being done to maximise the chance of success of their mission, and to minimise their risk in carrying it out." Mr Ainsworth could do little but agree.
The actual presentation of the report into the crash of Nimrod XV230 by Charles Haddon-Cave afterwards was the most excoriating and damning condemnation of organisational failure that you will ever hear. Read the entire report here. We'll be providing analysis and reaction in the Herald tomorrow.
His report singles out 10 named individuals for criticism, five from the MoD, three from BAe Systems and two from QinetiQ and if there are no resignations or criminal charges before this affair is over then it will be all the more flabbergasting.
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