More than £8m paid out since 2019 by armed forces over sexual assault claims

The Ministry of Defence has paid around £8.3 million since 2019 to settle claims involving sexual abuse or assault in the armed forces, according to new figures.

The scale of compensation settlements, reached since 2019 and settled outside court, has been described as “horrifying”.

The figures emerged in a parliamentary question submitted by the Liberal Democrats’ Sarah Olney and answered by junior defence minister Andrew Murrison.

Mr Murrison said the claims, which cover the Army, Royal Navy and RAF, included “damages paid on an interim basis for continuing claims and damages paid on full and final settlement basis”.

More than £2.5 million was paid out by the British Army and the Royal Navy each since 2019, with the RAF settling cases to the cost of more than £3 million.

The figures come amid serious concerns about the culture within the MoD and wider armed forces.

A report last year found a “hostile, degrading and humiliating” environment within the Red Arrows display team and said women were plied with alcohol, treated like property and harassed for sex.

Ms Olney said: “This is horrifying. The fact that our armed forces have been forced to pay millions in damages payouts should be raising alarm bells for ministers at the MoD.

“Sexual abuse has no place in our society, not least in the forces that are meant to keep us all safe.

“We need a swift and clear statement from Conservative ministers as to how they are going to address this clear issue in our armed forces.”

A Ministry of Defence Spokesperson said: “No one should be made to feel unsafe in our armed forces and this behaviour is not tolerated.

“We are committed to stamping this out and we continue to encourage anyone who has experienced or witnessed this kind of inexcusable behaviour, to report it immediately.

“Through our Defence Serious Crime and Victim Witness Care Units, we have strengthened our ability to discharge from service anyone who has committed an offence or engages in unacceptable behaviour.”