William McNeilly claimed there was safety concerns around Trident nuclelar missiles

William McNeilly claimed there was safety concerns around Trident nuclelar missiles

CLAIMS by a Belfast Royal Marine seaman that there were safety fears around the Trident nuclear missile system in Scotland have been shot down by defence chiefs.

Able Seaman William McNeilly claimed a “disaster was waiting to happen” at the Trident missile base in Faslane.

He later went on the run but was subsequently arrested by Royal Navy Military Police at Edinburgh airport and taken into military custody for questioning.

But today, in a statement to the House of Commons, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “I can assure the House that neither the operational effectiveness of our Continuous at Sea Deterrent nor the safety of our submariners or members of the public have been compromised.

“Able Seaman McNeilly published his comments following his first submarine deployment. He was under training, and his access and exposure to activities and material on board were appropriate to his security clearance.

“We have found no evidence that he raised any concerns with colleagues on board or with the chain of command: had he done so, the more senior and experienced submariners would have been able to explain how the boat operated and why McNeilly’s concerns were unfounded.

“A number of the issues he raised did not occur during his patrol.

“Most of McNeilly’s concerns proved to be either factually incorrect or the result of mis- or partial understanding; some drew on historic, previously known, events none of which had compromised our deterrent capability and, where appropriate, from which lessons had been learned to develop our procedures as part of a continuous improvement programme.”

The minister conceded that one allegations remained to be “fully examined” and it was in regard to allegations that e-cigarettes were being used within the submarine.

Mr Fallon’s statement came ahead of an SNP-sponsored debate in the House of Commons on the safety of Trident nuclear weapons.

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