Hoon review aims to overhaul MoD culture

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Indy Politics

Geoff Hoon is to launch a wholesale review of personnel procedures at the Ministry of Defence in the wake of the Hutton report.

Richard Hatfield, the MoD's head of personnel who was a witness at the inquiry, will lead the review, designed to streamline management of staff and improve communications.

Mr Hatfield came in for stinging criticism from the counsel for the Kelly family during the inquiry after he said that the care and support shown to David Kelly were "outstanding". ButLord Hutton's report did not criticise Mr Hatfield and said individuals within the ministry did try to support the scientist.

Lord Hutton did find the MoD to be at fault for not informing Dr Kelly that his name would be confirmed if a journalist suggested it.

Mr Hoon is likely to announce the review today. Two senior personnel managers have been brought into the ministry from other Whitehall departments to help drive through the reforms, which ministers believe are needed to simplify practices in the huge organisation, which employs 92,000 civilian staff and manages nearly 215,000 service personnel. Ministers have ruled out bringing in outside management consultants because of the complexity of the MoD's vast operations.

They want staff to be much better informed of the MoD's aims and objectives as well as day-to-day issues such as pay and conditions when the MoD moves to its newly refurbished headquarters in Whitehall in summer next year. One source said: "We want quite a wide- ranging review."

The Government also wants to prepare for reforms due to be published next year to put Army, RAF and Royal Navy staff under the same personnel regime. Officials are expected to focus on clarifying the relationship between staff working for the MoD, the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development because of increasingly close working relationships in the world's troublespots.

* One of Mr Hoon's closest aides, who gave evidence to the Hutton inquiry linking the Defence Secretary to the naming of Dr Kelly, has resigned. Richard Taylor, who had been special adviser to Mr Hoon for three years, was absolved of any blame by Lord Hutton.

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