UK

Trident Whistleblower William McNeilly Says Royal Navy's Nuclear Programme 'Disaster Waiting To Happen'

18/05/2015 10:12 BST | Updated 18/05/2015 15:59 BST

A Royal Navy whistleblower who wrote in an explosive report that Trident is a “disaster waiting to happen” has said he will hand himself in.

Able Seaman, William McNeilly, went absent without leave last week following the damning 18-page report revealing the dangers onboard HMS Victorious including fire risks, leaks and a lack of security checks.

The report contained a series of allegations about the Trident submarines based at Faslane on the Clyde.

After the report was published, Mr McNeilly went missing and the Royal Navy confirmed that it was “concerned for his whereabouts and wellbeing”.

mcneilly wikileaks

McNeilly posted an 18-page report on WikiLeaks about the dangers onboard Trident

But Speaking to the BBC, the submariner said: “I'm not hiding from arrest; I will be back in the UK in the next few days and I will hand myself in to the police.

“Prison - such a nice reward for sacrificing everything to warn the public and government.

“Unfortunately that's the world we live in. I know it's a lot to sacrifice and it is a hard road to walk down, but other people need to start coming forward.”

A petition has been created, calling on the Ministry of Defence and the Crown Office not to prosecute the whistleblower.

The petition states: "McNeilly has not yet been located, but we want an assurance that he will not face punishment for releasing the report.

"McNeilly's release of this information was clearly in the public interest and, as John Ainslie, co-ordinator of Scottish CND said, 'he should be commended for his action, not hounded by the Ministry of Defence'."

At the time of writing, the petition had received 806 signatures. A Facebook page called Support The Trident Whistleblower has also been set up.

In an online post, the Engineering Technician Submariner said he has been gathering information for more than a year.

His report alleged 30 safety and security flaws on the submarines.

He wrote: “This is bigger than me, it’s bigger than all of us. We are so close to a nuclear disaster it is shocking, and yet everybody is accepting the risk to the public."

Security and safety concerns around the UK's nuclear deterrent are now being investigated following the claims from the 25-year-old.

One of the main concerns highlighted in the dossier was how poor security checks could leave the door open for the "worst terrorist attack the UK and world has ever seen".

Mr McNeilly wrote how thousands of Royal Navy Ids go missing every year, which means anyone could gain "easy access" down to the submarine.

He also lists a number of mistakes which took place onboard the Trident vessels. The HMS Vanguard reportedly crashed into the French submarine.

Mr McNeily said that a chief onboard the submarine told him: "We thought, this it we're all going to die. I was laughing my ass at the time; I think it must of been the nerves.”

The Navy said many of the claims are "subjective and unsubstantiated personal views, made by a very junior sailor, with which the naval service completely disagrees".

Mr McNeilly said he raised concerns with senior officers but decided to publish his claims as they were ignored.

Mr McNeilly was on patrol with the HMS Victorious this year.

hms victorious

William McNeilly said he was on patrol with HMS Victorious this year

He said that security checks are rarely carried out on personnel and contractors working on the submarines when they are docked at Faslane.

A Royal Navy spokeswoman said: "The Royal Navy takes security and nuclear safety extremely seriously and we are fully investigating both the issue of the unauthorised release of this document and its contents.

"The naval service operates its submarine fleet under the most stringent safety regime and submarines do not go to sea unless they are completely safe to do so."

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Peter Burt, of Nuclear Information Service, said: "William McNeilly is a brave young man who has done not only his colleagues in the submarine service but the whole nation a service by exposing the risks that submariners face because of cost-cutting, staff shortages and lax management.

"The Ministry of Defence's nuclear programme operates to far lower safety standards than the civil nuclear sector because independent regulators are not allowed to scrutinise its activities, and because much is covered up under the pretence of security.

"This must now stop, and the Prime Minister must order an immediate reform of military nuclear safety."

William McNeilly Trident Report