The validity of the Nimrod Review (2009)

Extract from Nimrod Review Report:

'This Review was announced on 4 December 2007 by the then Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt Hon. Des Browne. My appointment to conduct the Nimrod Review was announced on 13 December 2007, with the following broad Terms of Reference:

In light of the board of inquiry report:

To examine the arrangements for assuring the airworthiness and safe operation of the Nimrod MR2 in the period from its introduction in 1979 to the accident on 2 September2006, including hazard analysis, the safety case compiled in 2005, maintenance arrangements, and responses to any earlier incidents which might have highlighted the risk and led to corrective action;

To assess where responsibility lies for any failures and what lessons are to be learned;

To assess more broadly the process for compiling safety cases, taking account of best

practice in the civilian and military world;

And to make recommendations to the Secretary of State as soon as practicable, if necessary by way of interim report'.

That is, the Terms of Reference made airworthiness, the dating of systemic failures to implement airworthiness regulations and the responsibility for such failures an 'issue'.

Now consider this:

'It is a fundamental principle of judicial conduct that one cannot disregard what the evidence establishes'. (Judge Philip Boyd 14 March 2013)

In respect of the ISSUE, the evidence to Mr Haddon-Cave established;

  • Systemic airworthiness failures could be traced directly to a policy developed by Air Member Supply and Organisation in 1987, and promulgated in January 1988.
  • This policy, and the accompanying evidence, explained the background to Mr Haddon-Cave’s confirmation that MoD made 'savings at the expense of safety'.
  • This policy was perpetuated throughout the 1990s by the organisations headed by the RAF Chief Engineer and the Director General responsible for Nimrod, who were notified on a regular basis by internal audits and reports of the effect this policy to run down the airworthiness system was having.

Mr Haddon-Cave disregarded the evidence directly relating to the issue. Instead, and without offering any independent evidence, he dated the failures at 1998, contradicting numerous audits and reports, the RAF Inspector of Flight Safety and the Chief of Defence Procurement.

He did not mention this evidence in his report or that he was contradicting authoritative sources, implying his unsupported conclusions were the only possible explanation. By omitting to mention this irrefutable evidence, he engineered a situation whereby he did not have to explain why he chose to ignore it.

If the issues have not been addressed or resolved, can a proper Review be said to have taken place?

It must be acknowledged that Group Captain (later Air Commodore) George Baber should have inherited a continuous Nimrod Safety Case task, as per mandated regulations, instead of having to let one. That act of letting the task (however poorly managed by his staff and British Aerospace) demonstrates he went further towards meeting his legal obligations than his predecessors. There was no extant task as a direct result of the above policy.

The Nimrod Airworthiness Review Team report of 1998 is attached.

NART Report (Electronic).pdf