• June 12, 2015


The Celtic League has received a reply to the query we sent to the Minister for Defence about Belfast born submariner Able Seaman William McNeilly. The reply was forwarded by the Royal Navy Command HQ Portsmouth.

Although not commenting directly on our comments about the individual specifically the Navy do go to great lengths to refute his ‘whistle-blowing’ assertions about safety on UK ballistic missile submarines.

However, it was when we looked at the attachmed link the Navy enclosed about an inspection of military detention facilities that our concerns were really awakened.

It is clear from the HMIP report compiled last year that conditions are extremely basic at the multiplicity of sites the UK armed forces use and the monitoring of abuse appears to be non-existent.

We also note that military detention facilities can be used to hold persons under eighteen years of age, a matter we feel sure will be an issue of concern to the UNCRC who we intend to alert to this fact.

The reply from Navy Command is set out in full below. In addition, links to previous items on CL News relating to the McNeilly case are set out below.

“Dear Mr Moffatt,

Thank you for your letter of 20 May regarding the detention of Able Seaman (AB) McNeilly. Your correspondence has been forwarded to Navy Command Headquarters and I have been asked to respond.

In respect of AB McNeilly’s treatment, I hope you will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to comment. However, I can reassure you that he is being afforded the duty of care available to all members of the Service.

You may wish to be aware that the Minister for the Armed Forces, Penny Mordaunt MP, spoke during an Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons on 28 May. She reported that the Royal Navy’s thorough investigation of the allegations made by AB McNeilly included an analysis of the service history of the boat and of the patrol report: a review of the ongoing programme of work to improve safety and security at Her Majesty’s Naval Bases of Clyde and Devonport; one-to-one interviews with McNeilly’s chain of command, his colleagues and McNeilly himself; and consultations with the regulatory and operating authorities.

AB McNeilly’s concerns proved to be either factually incorrect or the result of misunderstanding or partial understanding. Some of his concerns drew on historical, previously known events, none of which had compromised our deterrent capability and from which, where appropriate, lessons had been learned to develop our procedures as part of a continuous improvement programme.

Turning to your point about the treatment of Service personnel in detention, I would wish to reassure you that all Service Custody Premises are subject to inspection by both HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) and Military Provost Staff. For your information, the HMIP Report on the Service Custody Facilities inspected between 24 February – 6 March 2014 can be viewed via the following link:

[Link in letter.]

I hope the above clarifies the situation.

Yours sincerely,”

Related links on Celtic News:

Nuclear Subs Pose Deadly Environmental Risk off Our Shores

Assault Allegations at Detention Centre Where Sub Safety Whistle Blower May Be Held

Celtic League Caution MOD About Treatment of Sub Safety Whistle-Blower

Whistle Blower Exposes Trident Danger

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 was established in 1961 and 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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