The report by Charles Haddon-Cave QC into the single biggest loss of life of Service personnel in one battlefield incident since the Falklands War is as devastating as it is possible for a report to be.

The loss of a Nimrod aircraft over Afghanistan in 2006 and the deaths of all 14 men on board were avoidable, Haddon-Cave concludes. The fire that engulfed the airtcraft was “brought about by significant failures” on the part of the Ministry of Defence, BAE Systems and the absurdly-named company QinetiQ.

Haddon-Cave does not flinch from naming the individuals involved — protected, as he is, by parliamentary privilege. He summarised his findings in a lengthy and sombre statement, televised from Gray’s Inn.

The QC declined to take reporters’ question, perhaps not surprisingly — since the first question we would have asked was whether the those companies and individuals he named were liable to compensate the relatives of those who died. This was not a question he could have answered.

But what was so depressing was his conclusion that airworthiness had become a casualty of financial pressures. One could say the same about so many aspects of Britain today.

An autumn note

“For many, the end of this uneasy year cannot come quickly enough”

An ordinary killing

Ian Cobain’s book uses the killing of Millar McAllister to paint a meticulous portrait of the Troubles

Greater—not wiser

John Mullan elucidates the genius of Charles Dickens