Former army troops axed for illegal drug offences are being paid up to £10,000 to return to service in “specialised roles”, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed.
The Mail on Sunday reported that the payments were being offered to former troops to “plug a shortage” in the fighting force.
A spokesperson for the MoD confirmed that payments are being offered to former troops, but only in some cases to personnel in specialist roles and ranks.
The Mail on Sunday’s report said that troops expelled following drug offences were being contacted by MoD officials and told they can qualify for “golden hello” payments.
The report said the troops could return to active duty at the same rank, but did not specify that the payments were only available to personnel re-joining in specialist roles.
The paper reported that Falklands War hero Simon Weston, 57, said he is “truly appalled” by the decision.
Those re-applying must meet our high standards in order to re-join the Army and all applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.An Army spokesman
He said: “That troops have been discharged for taking drugs can qualify for jobs which come with £10,000 ‘golden hellos’, and keep their old ranks, adds insult to injury.
“It is such a kick in the teeth for long-serving soldiers who have obeyed the rules and resisted temptation to see former colleagues who displayed such a lack of discipline and lack of respect for the Army’s values swanning back into their regiments.”
The Mail on Sunday reported that the drug offences involved cocaine, cannabis and ketamine.
An Army spokesperson said: “Neither the Army, or its recruiting partner Capita, have directly approached individuals to invite them to re-join the Armed Forces. However, we always welcome applications from individuals whose circumstances have changed since leaving our ranks.
“Financial incentives to return have been offered to fewer than 10 people since the start of the scheme in April, and only where there is a clear need to fill highly skilled or specialist roles. In no way is this connected to an individual’s reason for leaving the Army, and anyone applying to re-join after previously failing a drugs test must pass a new test in order to be accepted.”