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Trident sailor held by Navy police

Published 19/05/2015

Able Seaman William McNeilly, 25, went absent without leave last week after producing a report containing allegations about the Trident submarines based at Faslane
Able Seaman William McNeilly, 25, went absent without leave last week after producing a report containing allegations about the Trident submarines based at Faslane

A Royal Navy submariner who published an online dossier of safety and security concerns about the Trident nuclear programme has been apprehended.

Able Seaman William McNeilly, 25, went absent without leave last week after producing an 18-page report containing a series of allegations about the Trident submarines based at Faslane on the Clyde.

He was stopped last night at Edinburgh Airport and is now being held by Royal Navy Police at a military establishment in Scotland.

His report alleged 30 safety and security flaws on the submarines, describing them as a ''disaster waiting to happen''.

A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman said today: " We can confirm that Able Seaman McNeilly was apprehended last night and is now in the custody of the Royal Navy Police at a military establishment in Scotland where he is being afforded the duty of care that we give to all of our people.

"The Royal Navy disagrees with McNeilly's subjective and unsubstantiated personal views but we take the operation of our submarines and the safety of our personnel extremely seriously and so continue to fully investigate the circumstances of this issue."

The MoD said Able Seaman McNeilly will face consequences for being absent without leave but would not comment on whether he will face any sort of proceedings over his Trident report.

In his report, which was published online and also sent to newspapers and journalists, Mr McNeilly said he is an engineering technician submariner who has been on patrol with the Trident submarine HMS Victorious.

He claimed there are fire risks and leaks on board and security checks are rarely carried out on personnel and contractors working on the submarines when they are docked at Faslane.

He also alleged that alarms were muted because they went off so often, missile safety procedures were ignored and top-secret information was left unguarded.

Mr McNeilly, originally from Newtownabbey, County Antrim, said he raised concerns with senior officers but decided to publish his claims because they were ignored.

He wrote: ''Our nuclear weapons are a target that's wide open to attack.

''It is just a matter of time before we're infiltrated by a psychopath or terrorist.''

A post on a Facebook profile apparently belonging to Mr McNeilly said yesterday that he would be handing himself in to the police.

He said he had ''moved between countries, changed location almost every day'', but now ''lacks the resources to remain undetected''.

A Facebook post understood to be from Mr McNeilly's brother said he returned to Scotland last night.

Aaron Lewis wrote: "My brother is safe and well."

Asked where his brother was, he replied: "He handed himself in last night. Scotland at the minute."

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