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.

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