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MPs outraged as consultants get £1.1m from deal to axe Harriers

Consultants were paid £1.1 million to help axe Britain’s fleet of Harrier jump jets and then sell them to America, it emerged today.

The Ministry of Defence was criticised for a “ludicrous waste” of money on outside help, at a time when thousands of troops are being cut.

MPs said it was “extraordinary” that private firms were profiting from helping to slash the defence budget, arguing the job could be done by the department’s own staff. The 74 Harriers were retired eight years early as part of 2010’s defence review. But last year 72 were sold to the US military, who compared them to cars with just 15,000 miles on the clock.

The £1.1 million would pay the annual salaries of 58 entry-level soldiers. The expenditure was revealed only days after the MoD announced that 4,200 troops would be axed this year.

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy argued the cash could be better spent protecting jobs or equipment, adding: “People will find it extraordinary that private consultants are being paid to help slash the defence budget.

“Ministers must explain why others are profiting from decisions which have seen thousands made redundant and Britain left without an aircraft carrier with aircraft for a decade.”

Defence select committee member Madeleine Moon, who uncovered the spending through parliamentary questions, said she was “appalled” while Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a former Army officer, raised concerns about a “consultancy culture” at the MoD.

Defence equipment minister Peter Luff insisted £1 billion was being saved by removing the Harrier from service and selling the jets to the US for £110 million. The decision formed part of government efforts to plug a £38 billion black hole in the defence budget which saw tens of thousands of job losses announced and major equipment programmes cut.

The MoD said Alix Partners had been paid the £1.1 million as part of a wider contract to help deliver savings in the department. Last year it emerged the firm was being paid £3,950 a day.

An official stressed the yearly consultancy bill had fallen from £261 million to £26 million under the Coalition. A spokesman said it had been a “difficult but necessary decision” to axe Harrier. The MoD was investing in “modern, cutting-edge aircraft for the future”.

Read more on the Evening Standard website

2 comments to MPs outraged as consultants get £1.1m from deal to axe Harriers

  • petemears

    Outrageous beyond words. For those interested, the 2 Harriers saved for UK museums (the remains of the 72 sold for a song to the US Marine Corps) are: ZG477 GR9A in 1 Sqn special markings and ZD433 GR9A in 1 Sqn markings complete with Afghan mission symbols. Both have been roaded to the RAF Museum Cosford and the Fleet Air Arm Museum Yeovilton respectively.

  • Yes, completely outrageous. (Sorry I didn’t publish your note to me in December about this – best to post directly as you are doing!)

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