Calls for investigation after 60 women at MoD allege ‘toxic’ culture

The Ministry of Defence has been urged to investigate following reports that 60 senior women at the department have complained of a “hostile” and “toxic” environment amid allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

The Guardian has reported that the senior civil servants have written to the Ministry of Defence’s permanent secretary detailing claims that the women have been “propositioned”, “groped” and “touched repeatedly” by men working in the department.

The paper reported that the letter saw officials claim their “day-to-day professional lives are made difficult thanks to behaviours that would be considered toxic and inappropriate in public life, but that are tolerated at the MoD”.

They also said that the workplace was “hostile to women as equal and respected partners”.

An MoD spokesperson said: “We are taking action to tackle the deeply concerning issues raised. No woman should be made to feel unsafe in defence and this behaviour will not be tolerated.

“We also continue to encourage anyone who has experienced or witnessed this kind of inexcusable behaviour to report it immediately.”

The FDA, which represents senior civil servants, called on the Ministry of Defence to launch an “immediate investigation” in the wake of the allegations.

The union’s national officer, Gareth Hills, said: “The accounts of these women’s experiences are deeply worrying. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace.

“The MoD must now take action, including an immediate investigation of these allegations.

“The FDA, along with other unions representing staff at the MOD, has requested an urgent meeting with the permanent secretary to discuss this.”