by Iain Donaldson on 19 May, 2015
Well, we have had a Tory Government for less than a week and already we are seeing workers’ rights being torn apart as the police arrest Trident whistle-blower William McNeilly (now in custody) following leaked allegations about safety and security failings on Trident nuclear submarines.
William McNeilly, 25, went on the run after alleging in an internet post that the Trident missile programme, based on the Clyde, was a “disaster waiting to happen” but was “apprehended” by Royal Navy Police at Edinburgh Airport on Monday night and is now being held at a military establishment in Scotland. .
Able Seaman McNeilly served on HMS Victorious, one of the four submarines based at Faslane on the Clyde which are armed with the Trident missile system, Britain’s nuclear deterrent. He has written an 18-page report, called The Secret Nuclear Threat, detailing what he claims are serious security and safety breaches on board the vessel.
Incidents included in his report varied 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, alarms being muted “to avoid listening” to them, and stories of fires starting in missile compartments.
Mr 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”.
The Navy has said the fleet operated “under the most stringent safety regime”.
This case will be watched closely as it is the first test of whether the Tory Government will continue the commitment to the Whistleblower Legislation that the Liberal Democrats have rigorously championed during the Coalition.
When two members of police staff and a third person were arrested last year as part of the an investigation after it was revealed PCC Richard Rhodes spent £700 on two chauffeur-driven journeys, Lib Dem MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale Tim Farron raised the issue during Prime Minister’s Questions.
The Prime Minister replied that “In general we should support whistleblowers and what they do to help improve the provision of public services.”
It remains to be seen how he will view this whistle-blower when it affects his precious boy-toys, Britain’s so-called independent nuclear deterrent, Trident.