Scotland

Trident whistleblower William McNeilly leaves Royal Navy

William McNeilly Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Able Seaman McNeilly was detained after returning to the UK last month

A submariner who went on the run last month after publishing claims about the safety of the UK's nuclear deterrent has left the Royal Navy.

Able Seaman William McNeilly, from Belfast, alleged the Trident missile programme, based on the Clyde, was a "disaster waiting to happen".

He went into hiding abroad but handed himself in to military police after returning to the UK last month.

In a fresh online post, he said he had been given a "dishonourable discharge".

He wrote: "All of the charges against me were dropped - there's nothing that I can be charged with now.

"I believe the Home Office are still doing their investigation, but that's nothing to worry about.

"Most people know that I acted in the interest of national security. However, I was still given a dishonourable discharge from the Royal Navy. On the claim that my sole aim was to discredit their public image.

"It is shocking that some people in a military force can be more concerned about public image than public safety."

'Wished me luck'

He said he regarded the Royal Navy as being the "greatest navy in history" and insisted his sole aim had been to improve safety.

The former sailor said he had received support from some colleagues, adding: "A lot them wished me luck on completing my objectives. Some of them were shocked that I didn't receive an honourable discharge or wasn't kept in the service.

"Personally, I thought honourable discharge would've been nice but I didn't really care if it was honourable discharge or not. I just respectively told them that I'd accept any punishment as long as the accusations against me are true."

The Ministry of Defence confirmed the 25-year-old, who said he had mainly been held at HMS Nelson in Portsmouth since being detained by Royal Navy Police at Edinburgh Airport, had left the service.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that AB McNeilly has left the Naval 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."

Image copyright MOD
Image caption AB McNeilly had served on board the nuclear-armed submarine HMS Victorious

Naval regulations allow for service personnel to be dismissed if their views or actions are deemed to be incompatible with service life.

AB McNeilly was an Engineering Technician Submariner who had been on patrol with HMS Victorious, one of the four nuclear-armed submarines based at the Faslane naval base on the Clyde.

His 18-page report, called The Secret Nuclear Threat, included descriptions of incidents ranging from complaints about food hygiene to failures in testing whether missiles could safely be launched or not.

He described security passes and bags going unchecked at Faslane, alarms being muted "to avoid listening" to them, and stories of fires starting in missile compartments.

Chain of command

AB McNeilly said he raised these and other concerns through the chain of command on multiple occasions, but that "not once did someone even attempt to make a change".

An investigation was launched into the claims, which culminated in Defence Secretary Michael Fallon saying AB McNeilly's safety claims had not been proved and were either incorrect or the result of misunderstanding.

Mr Fallon insisted that neither the "operational effectiveness" of the fleet "nor the safety of our submariners or public have been compromised".

But in a debate on the issue in the House of Commons, former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said Mr Fallon's explanation was "an insult" to the public's intelligence.

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