Today’s front pages carry a variety of stories. Of interest for Defence, The Mail on Sunday leads on a claim that Help For Heroes is being probed by the Charity Commission. This is based largely on reports made by "whistleblowing" staff who recently quit the military charity. The report says Help For Heroes denies the allegations and that its staff maintain high standards and points out that the Commission has not asked for a full investigation.
The Sunday Times reports that Daesh operatives have entered Britain with the ringleader of the Paris attacks and are using the migrant crisis as cover to travel across Europe, according to counterterrorism officials. The operatives are said to have passed from Syria through Turkey before entering the European Union by sea or land and eventually heading to countries including the UK, France, Germany and Spain.
The Independent on Sunday reveals that Jeremy Corbyn has demanded that David Cameron reveal the extent of Britain's growing military preparations for war in Libya, amid concern that British "seek and destroy" drones may already be operating over the country. A Government source said that Daesh ‘had to be dealt with’ in Libya, but that any intervention had to wait until there was an invitation from a united government in Libya. Corbyn has demanded the Prime Minister give MPs an "unequivocal assurance that no decision has been taken to use drones in support of military operations in Libya". A Government spokesperson said:
The UK, along with international partners, is supporting the process to form a recognised Libyan government and we are developing plans to support this. No decisions have been made about the future deployment of any British military forces to Libya as part of an international coalition force.
Domestic assistance costs
The Sun on Sunday reports that ‘domestic assistance’ for the Chief of the Defence Staff costs taxpayers £2,000 a week ‘at his ‘freebie home’. The Vice Chief of the Defence Staff spent more than £78,000 on staff at his grace and favour residence, according to the article. Kevan Jones MP said many would find these costs difficult to understand. The MOD’s statement is carried, which is:
We’re committed to delivering the best possible value for the taxpayer. The Chief and Vice Chief of the Defence Staff carry out complex roles and a small team are paid to provide important support.
The Independent on Sunday claims that staff shortages at the police force responsible for guarding the UK's nuclear weapons bases and other key military facilities are now so severe that the MOD is considering whether to use serving soldiers to plug the gaps. A shortfall in the number of trained frontline officers serving with the MOD Police (MDP) has led to the option of deploying troops being given "serious consideration" by ministers, the head of the body representing rank-and-file officers told the paper. The piece refers to comments made by the Defence Secretary in the House of Commons last month that military personnel had the ability to perform both armed and unarmed guarding duties to ensure that MDP resources were best used. An MOD statement is carried, saying:
As the chair of the Committee has confirmed, the MDP is fulfilling its duties during a period of change. The force is currently around 95 per cent manned and has recruited 450 officers in the past two years, with plans in place to recruit a further 200 in the next financial year. The Committee did identify some matters of concern which are already being addressed by the Chief Constable.
The Police Committee Chair has confirmed to Defence ministers that despite some significant ongoing challenges, the MDP is continuing to deliver its policing services in accordance with the MOD Police Act 1987 and is delivering these lawfully, responsibly and proportionately. The MDP is funded from the MOD budget, which is growing at 0.5% above inflation over the next five years.