A SECOND airman has won a payout from the Ministry of Defence after proving his cancer was caused by piloting the same choppers flown by Prince William.
Former Royal Navy Commander Richard Sutton – who has been awarded an MBE for flying commandos into war zones – is battling a rare form of the deadly disease caused by exhaust fumes on the Sea King helicopter.
He has won a settlement after proving he inhaled the toxic fumes in the cockpit leading to him being diagnosed with Epithelioid Fibrosarcoma.
The decorated pilot, of Cardiff, Wales, said: “This is of the MoD’s own making, they knew they needed to do exhaust modifications to the Sea King but chose to do nothing.
“If there was an issue everyone should have been told, regardless of who they are.
“I just want to get the message out there for those who haven’t associated their ill health with their service.
“They should get the help they need to support their families.”
Richard’s case has emerged after The Sun told how Flight Sergeant Zach Stubbings had contracted bone marrow cancer from his years of service on the aircraft.
Winch operator Zach even flew alongside the Duke of Cambridge out of RAF Valley in Anglesey during a 15-year career.
Richard said he first discovered his cancer when he found a golf ball size lump in the roof of his mouth while on holiday in 2011.
The 51-year-old’s condition soon worsened and he’s had six operations and two bouts of radiotherapy.
The former commander believes the airflow from the helicopter rotors created a vortex which took exhaust fumes and other debris into the cabin and cockpit.
This is of the MoD’s own making, they knew they needed to do exhaust modifications to the Sea King but chose to do nothing.”
“When we flew operations in the desert in Iraq and Afghanistan, the sand would come up through the back door, through the cabin and out the cockpit window,’ he said.
“The same was happening with the exhaust fumes, it was like sticking your head in a bucket full of dirt and blasting a hair dryer in there.
“We’d be covered in sand and black soot from the exhaust. We had visors on but it’s not a complete seal.”
Sutton, who has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Northern Ireland spanning a glittering 25-year career in the Royal Navy, left service in 2014 before going on to fly search and rescue missions for the Coastguard.
“I’ve now lost my flying career which was hard to take and I have a lot of pain from the various surgeries,” he said.
We call this attributable to service”
Service Personnel and Veterans Agency
“I’ve still got a tumour on my spine and the doctors gave me three years to live, but I’ve lasted ten.
“I don’t want to moan about it because there’s people in a lot worse position than I am.”
In a letter from the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency, the MoD concedes Richard’s Royal Navy service caused his cancer.
“We call this attributable to service,” the letter states.
Richard, who has two grown children, was presented with an MBE in 2010 by Wills’ father Prince Charles and says he still holds the Royal Navy in the highest respect.
But he points to failings in the MoD and must now live with a series of debilitating conditions caused by his cancer.
He added: “I’ve fought in various wars and I’m taking the same approach, to keep at it and fight on.”
Bombshell documents uncovered by fellow airman Zach Stubbings – and used by Richard in his case – warned the MoD of the dangers of the Sea King exhaust as far back as 1999.
The experts recommended immediate modifications to the fleet of aircraft to protect the crew, but NOTHING was done.
Later reports recommended PPE – again NOTHING was done.
Zach and Richard’s victories are likely to lead to a flood of claims.
Prince William flew the Sea King over a three year period, flying his last sortie in August, 2013.
It’s unknown whether Wills has been affected by the jet fuel fumes.
The Sea King was retired from service in 2016.
Source: The Sun