Friday, May 27, 2016

£400,000 for flying instructor in British Army bullying storm

Prince Harry's flying instructor has won a £400,000 compensation battle after quitting the Army over alleged bullying.  Sergeant Major Michael Booley, 50, who became Harry's close friend, told a military court that top brass broke a string of promises over his career and forced him to resign.

Legal papers leaked to The Mail on Sunday reveal that a brigadier who led an inquiry into the case described Booley's treatment by a senior officer as 'vindictive'.

Documents submitted to an earlier employment tribunal reportedly said that this treatment amounted to 'bullying'.

Sgt Maj Booley left the Army Air Corps in November 2010 after a distinguished career in which he saw frontline action in the Balkans and Iraq.

He was also hand-picked to be Harry's fixed-wing flying instructor at RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire, teaching him how to fly in combat zones. They became such close friends that they were photographed riding high-performance motorbikes together.

The court heard, behind closed doors, how the distinguished pilot was promised a £50,000 golden-handcuffs deal which never materialised and that a posting he was promised to RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, was scrapped.

He was sent to Northern Ireland for four years instead after senior officers raised concerns about his flying skills.

Brigadier Matt Lowe, who headed the Service Inquiry, found that Sgt Maj Booley's career manager Major Steve Graham had used the 'weakest of evidence' to block his move to RAF Waddington.

Brig Lowe said: '[Maj Graham] was vindictive, abusing his position of responsibility and the trust placed in him. His conduct wronged the complainant and acted against the interests of the Army. We recommend his chain of command consider Major Graham's position, including whether disciplinary action is warranted.'

Brig Lowe also ordered a formal probe into how Maj Graham was able to obtain personal information about a witness who claimed to have overheard Maj Graham threatening to 'teach that f***** [Booley] a lesson'.

Papers also reveal that Brig Lowe described the Army's initial investigation into the case as 'fundamentally flawed' and suggested disciplinary action against senior investigating officer, Major Pete McCarthy.

Sgt Maj Booley, who previously served as an infantry soldier in the Paras, suffered severe depression following his mistreatment by senior officers and remains unable to work. His tax-free settlement is based on a loss of earning and pension entitlements.

The Ministry of Defence is also expected to pay £100,000 in costs over the six-year legal battle.

An Army spokesman last night said it took service complaints 'extremely seriously' but would not comment on individual cases, nor confirm whether disciplinary charges had been considered against Maj Graham or Maj McCarthy, as suggested by Brig Lowe.

Original report here

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