Diplomatic and Military Affairs

Army apologises after UK soldiers sacked by email

Updated: 2011-02-15 17:02


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 LONDON - The British army apologised on Tuesday after nearly 40 long-serving soldiers were told by email that they were losing their jobs.

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The 38 warrant officers, including one deployed in Afghanistan, were told their contracts would be cancelled because of defence cuts, the Sun newspaper said.

"It was out of the blue. We're disgusted," said one of the unnamed victims, who had completed five warzone tours.

"It's not good - five tours of duty and sacked by email."

Another victim was a Royal Tank Regiment veteran currently serving in Afghanistan, the newspaper said.

The Ministry of Defence's budget of 36.9 billion pounds will be cut by 8 percent in real terms over the next four years as the government reins in a record peacetime budget deficit of about 10 percent of national output.

Army personnel will be cut by around 7,000 to 95,000 as part of the savings.

British media have reported that up to 100 trainee pilots would be dismissed by the Royal Air Force as other services start to rein in costs.

The emails gave the soldiers 12 months' notice, and the Ministry of Defence said they will receive help in training for civilian life.

"We apologise for the distress that this will have caused," an army spokesman said in an email to news organisations.

"Commanding Officers have now spoken to the soldiers concerned to ensure that they receive all necessary advice and support."

Jim Murphy, opposition Labour defence spokesman, said the sackings had been made in a "callous, cold-hearted, soulless way".

"This is no way to treat men and women who have served their country fearlessly for so many years," he told BBC radio.

"Sacking anyone by email is wrong, sacking our armed forces in this way is absolutely unforgivable."

The warrant officers, who have each completed more than 22 years of duty, are on rolling contracts.


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