Trident whistleblower discharged from Royal Navy

A ROYAL Navy submariner who published an online dossier of safety and security concerns about the Trident nuclear programme has been discharged from the service.

AB McNeilly claimed that Trident was a 'disaster waiting to happen'. Picture: PA
AB McNeilly claimed that Trident was a 'disaster waiting to happen'. Picture: PA

Able Seaman William McNeilly warned the UK’s nuclear deterrent was a disaster waiting to happen and accused officials of being “more concerned about public image than public safety”

He said he expects “worse” leaks to follow from other members of the armed forces in light of his widespread allegations about safety and security failings with the Trident nuclear missile programme.

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The 25-year-old said he had been “dishonourably discharged” yesterday, a month after he made global headlines by authoring a controversial 18- page report about the Trident submarines, based at Faslane on the Clyde.

The SNP said that the allegations have not been fully investigated and accused the Ministry of Defence of attempting to “sweep them under the carpet.”

Mr McNeilly, from Belfast, went absent without leave after detailing 30 alleged flaws with Trident, ranging from failures in testing whether the missiles could be launched safely to alarms being deliberately muted. He later handed himself in.

The claims became a major political issue and were raised in the House of Commons, but defence secretary Michael Fallon said the whistleblower’s concerns had not been proved and were either “incorrect or the result of misunderstanding.”

However, the submariner, who served on the Trident submarine HMS Victorious for three months at the beginning of the year, stood by his claims yesterday and accused officials of trying to discredit him.

In a lengthy post uploaded online, he said it was “shocking that some people in a military force can be more concerned about public image than public safety.”

He said he has been given a “dishonourable discharge” and that he refused to sign a document discrediting his allegations which would have led to an earlier release for the service.

He wrote: “Some people within the Royal Navy have been maliciously spreading the rumour that most of the information in my report is just hearsay. People should read the report before they judge it.”

Mr McNeilly said he believes other members of the Royal Navy will come forward with damaging allegations, many of them “worse” than the claims he has made.

He wrote online: “Other submariners have been anonymously releasing information to journalists. It’s only a matter of time before worse information comes out, and everything is proven to be true. Even high-ranking figures have expressed their concerns.”

SNP defence spokesman Brendan O’Hara, who represents the Argyll and Bute constituency that is home to the Faslane naval base, said: “I have always commended Mr McNeilly’s bravery for speaking out on these issues.

“We should all be grateful that he was courageous enough to bring these matters to public attention – especially as he had nothing to gain personally and, as we see today, so much to lose.”

“We do not believe that the allegations have been anywhere near fully investigated.”

A Royal Navy spokeswoman said: “We can confirm AB McNeilly has left the service, the details of which are a matter for the individual and his employer.

“Throughout the process Able Seaman McNeilly was still being afforded the duty of care that we give all our personnel, as was his family.”