Defence in the media: 21 May

No one story dominates the headlines this morning. There are reports that ISIL militants are in full control of the famous archaeological site in the ancient town of Palmyra in central Syria.

Russian military plane

Both the Daily Telegraph and Daily mail report that a Russian military plane has flown an observation mission across Britain. Russia is allowed to make two reconnaissance flights over Britain each year under the 2002 Open Skies Treaty, which was designed to build bridges after the cold war. The aircraft had six RAF crew on board to ensure the agreed flight plan was followed. We posted an article on this blog site yesterday with an explanation of the flight from one of the RAF crew members on board the Antonov. Read yesterdays post here.

Our top line on the story is below:

In contrast to RAF Quick Reaction Alert missions which respond to unidentified aircraft approaching the UK, this was a routine observation flight under the Open Skies Treaty with RAF personnel on board the aircraft. The treaty allows 34 states to conduct unarmed flights over other countries. UK personnel completed a similar flight over Russia at the same time, one of four planned Open Skies missions to Russia in 2015.

Defence spending  

The Daily Telegraph carries a report on a speech given by George Osborne where he said that the MOD and other Whitehall departments still need to find £13 billion worth of savings this year to help Britain secure economic recovery. It has been suggested that MOD, DCLG and the MoJ could be impacted by the austerity measures.

We have the second largest defence budget in NATO and the largest in the EU, and this Government is committed to spending 2% of GDP on defence this financial year. As we have previously stated, decisions on spending after the financial year 2015/16 will be determined in the next spending review.

Royal Marine  

A Royal Marine, left paralysed after he broke his neck on a training exercise, has lost his £8m damages claim against the MOD. Mirror Online reports that Spencer Vaughan, 27, was left in a wheelchair after a tragic accident on a Canary Island beach in 2009. The judge said 'It is a tragedy that a young man of such promise has suffered such a serious injury' and that the young marine had ‘misjudged’ the position with ‘catastrophic’ results.

Our position was not carried in the article but can be seen below:

While we have utmost sympathy for Mr Vaughan, MOD is not responsible for the injuries he sustained following his tragic accident, and in those circumstances we cannot pay damages from public funds.

Public interest lawyers  

The Times reports that Phil Shiner, the lawyer being investigated over claims against the Armed Forces in Iraq, has hired one of the City’s biggest legal firms to defend his reputation. The Solicitors Regulation Authority set up the inquiry after the MOD sent it a dossier of allegations against Mr Shiner. The move came after the collapse of the Al-Sweady inquiry last year in which allegations that soldiers murdered Iraqi civilians in 2004 were found to be false.

Our position on the investigations is laid out below:

The MOD is assisting the Solicitors Regulation Authority after it launched an investigation into issues that came to light as a result of the Al-Sweady Inquiry. The MOD was meticulous in only putting forward arguments it could substantiate.

Image of the day

HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Honorary Admiral of Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, views the Dunkirk 75 flotilla from the HMS Trumpeter
HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Honorary Admiral of Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, views the Dunkirk 75 flotilla from HMS Trumpeter.

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