• May 20, 2015


The Celtic League has today written to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon concerning the detention of a Royal Navy submariner who revealed a catalogue of safety shortcomings in relation to ballistic submarine safety.

The League says that Belfast man Able Seaman William McNeill should be commended for his actions and the also say that his:

“detention and treatment whilst in military custody is not impacted by any malice or ill will engendered by the embarrassment to you which may be perceived in some areas of the MOD and Service.”

The League has also sought clarification from Council of Europe prisons inspectorate, the CPT, to ascertain if it has powers to inspect the Military Corrective Training Centre where personnel such as Mr McNeilly will be held.

Text of MOD and CPT Correspondence set out below:

“The Secretary of State for Defence
Michael Fallon MP
Ministry of Defence
Main Building

20th May 2015

Dear Minister,

I write with reference to the detention by UK Military Police of submariner Able Seaman William McNeilly who was recently the subject of much media attention when he released information because of his concerns about a lack of safety on UK ballistic missile submarines.

We appreciate that Mr McNeilly willingness to go public with his concerns will have caused embarrassment to both the Ministry of Defence and the Royal Navy.

We do therefore trust that Mr McNeilly detention and treatment whilst in military custody is not impacted by any malice or ill will engendered by the embarrassment to you which may be perceived in some areas of the MOD and Service.

We believe his actions in highlighting his concerns are highly commendable and we will be ensuring that a close watch is kept on the circumstances surrounding his detention so nothing remiss occurs.

To that end I will today be writing to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and asking that they take an interest in his case.

I will also be asking if your military detention facilities are regularly inspected by the CPT, UNHCHR or the International Red Cross.

For information the Celtic League is an accredited NGO of the United Nations and our ‘fields of activity’ include human rights.

Yours sincerely,

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League”


“Mr Hugh Chetwynd
Head of Division
CPT Secretariat
Council of Europe
F67075 Strasbourg Cedex

20th May 2015

Dear Sir,

I draw the attention of the CPT to the attached correspondence to the United Kingdom Defence Secretary concerning the detention of Able Seaman William McNeilly by military police.

I understand that military personnel detained in this manner are held at the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC) at Colchester a former wartime prisoner of war camp.

Once ‘colloquially’ referred to as ‘the Glasshouse’ the MCTC had a unfortunate record for many years in relation to the harsh treatment that was received by those held there.

These days it does have an ‘Independent Monitoring Body’ appointed by the MOD but from a brief perusal of its powers it would appear to be fairly ‘toothless’ vis a vis enforcing change.

Can you advise if the CPT as part of its remits is able to inspect places of detention used by the military?

I appreciate the pressure of your schedule but if CPT has no powers in these areas please advise me promptly so I can make enquiries to the UNNCHR.

Yours sincerely,

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information”

Link to site for MCTC.

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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