William McNeilly won’t be prosecuted under Official Secrets Act for Trident revelations, MoD says


McNeilly claimed security at Faslane was more slack than some nightclubs, and said toilet roll caught fire in the missile compartment of one of the nuclear submarines

THE Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said that it won’t prosecute William McNeilly under the Official Secrets Act, after the nuclear weapons systems engineer at Faslane naval base published a document alleging that poor safety and security meant that Trident was a “disaster waiting to happen”.

McNeilly was taken into custody by Royal Navy police on Monday evening [18 May] at Edinburgh Airport after being on the run since 12 May, when he published his 18-page report online and sent it to media outlets. He wrote on Facebook on Monday that he wanted to hand himself in as he had achieved what he had set out to do in getting his concerns out to the public domain.

The MoD has said McNeilly is instead likely to face disciplinary action for going absent without leave rather than face prosecution under the Official Secrets Act, which would carry a much more severe punishment if found guilty.

The MoD said that many of McNeilly’s allegations were anecdotal rather than secret, and therefore did not fall under the purview of the Official Secrets Act, but would go ahead with an investigation into McNeilly’s claims.

“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,” a spokesperson stated.

John Ainslie from Scottish CND said that the MoD’s approach was a way to close the issue down.

He told The Guardian: “Had it gone [to criminal prosecution under the Official Secrets Act] then the navy gets a second round of publicity and the details surface again. From their point of view, this is a way to close it down.” (Click here to read more).

SNP MSP Bill Kidd has tabled a motion to the Scottish Parliament to commend McNeilly on his “courageous actions”.

“It would seem that he has put the safety of the public before his own freedom. I hope that his rights as a citizen and human being are kept to the fore and that this case is kept in the public domain,” Kidd said.

A petition has been launched to pardon McNeilly (click here to read more).

CommonSpace has looked at McNeilly’s claims in detail, and outlined five things about the revelations that is likely to shock people about Trident. (Click here to read.)

Picture courtesy of William McNeilly