RAF recruitment head quit ‘over order to prioritise women and ethnic minorities’

The RAF’s head of recruitment resigned after refusing to follow a diversity order to prioritise women and ethnic minority candidates over white men, it is claimed.

The group captain who heads up the 450-person recruitment team, reportedly told her boss in an email on 4 August she thought the order to allocate slots on RAF training courses based on gender or ethnicity was “unlawful.”

“I am not prepared to delegate or abdicate the responsibility of actioning that order to my staff,” the officer is claimed to have said, in an email seen by Sky News.

She resigned as Group Captain Recruitment and Selection, based at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire, but is still a serving RAF officer, the Ministry of Defence confirmed.

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A minister said on Friday that any evidence of positive discrimination within the RAF would be investigated, following allegations the service has “paused” offering new roles to white men.

James Heappey, the armed forces minister, denied claims that a “pause” had been put in place on job offers for white men in favour of women and ethnic minorities, in order to hit diversity targets.

He stressed that no policy is implemented despite the RAF recruitment team receiving an order on 2 August from the chain of command, according to Sky News.

He said that Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, who heads the RAF, had asked his team to “pause” offering training slots to all candidates while he and his senior leaders consider how they might take legal steps – so-called positive action – to assist improving diversity levels on various training courses in the year to March 2023.

“If there are avenues for the chief of the air staff to look at positive action, then that’s fine and he’s created himself room to do that. But we must be absolutely clear that no policy is implemented,” Mr Heappey said.

An RAF spokesperson said the concerns raised by the now-resigned head of recruitment had been “addressed” by her chain of command.

“The RAF recruits people from the widest possible pool of talent and is becoming a more diverse organisation, but we will not do so at the expense of our high standards, operational effectiveness, or adherence to legal obligations,” a spokesman said.

“The RAF will continue to work hard, within the provisions of the law, to achieve a Royal Air Force that reflects the society it serves and protects.”