Fox Denies Cuts to Armed Forces 'Have Severely Dented Morale'

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Cecil Chief Political Correspondent

LIAM FOX was today forced to deny claims in a leaked document that military morale had been hit by the defence review.

The Defence Secretary insisted that the report was an unauthorised assessment drawn up by "a junior official" and rejected its conclusions.

The document, seen by The Daily Telegraph, alleged that the confidence and morale of Britain's armed forces has been "badly damaged" by the Government.

The highly critical analysis, marked "restricted", was drawn up by "a board of military officers and senior officials" chaired by strategy director Tom McKane, it was claimed.

Mr Fox disputed this but the review has been heavily criticised by former defence chiefs. Particular concerns are the retiring of the Navy's flagship aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal, and the scrapping of the Harrier fleet which will mean British jets will not fly from UK carriers for a decade.

The document highlighted complaints that the military had not been informed where the axe would fall and that international allies were not prop-erly consulted and that the process was rushed. …