In a new 9-page report posted online, the former nuclear submariner attacks “military deceivers” and naval “spin doctors” for downplaying his allegations about multiple safety and security lapses. “It is shocking that some people in a military force can be more concerned about public image than public safety,” he says.
McNeilly has not been heard from since he handed himself in to the police at Edinburgh airport on 18 May, the day after his story broke. While absent without leave, he had posted a dossier online alleging 30 flaws on the submarines that carry Britain’s nuclear warheads and warning that Trident was “a disaster waiting to happen”.
The navy described his dossier as “subjective and unsubstantiated” and launched an inquiry that concluded by dismissing his allegations as “factually incorrect or the result of mis- or partial understanding". But now he has hit back, fiercely defending the accuracy of what he said.
All but three of the safety flaws he highlighted were "either witnessed or read in documented reports on the patrol," he says. The remaining three "were accurate reports of what was described to me by experienced submariners."
"Other submariners have been anonymously releasing information to journalists. It's only a matter of time before worse information comes out, and everything is proven to be true," he adds.
“All of the charges against me were dropped; there's nothing that I can be charged with now. Most people know that I acted in the interest of national security. However, I was still given a dishonourable discharge from the Royal Navy.”
He was discharged “on the claim that my sole aim was to discredit their public image,” he says. “The truth is I view the Royal Navy as the greatest navy in history.”
McNeilly, a 25-year-old naval recruit from Belfast, served on the Trident submarine, HMS Victorious, for three months at the beginning of the year. He claims that during his dismissal process he refused to sign a naval document discrediting his allegations.
He’s had support from other military personnel, he says. “Some of them were shocked that I didn't receive an honourable discharge or wasn't kept in the service.”
He reiterates his claims that security procedures are dangerously lax. “All it takes is for one contractor or one person from the military to put a bomb in his/her bag, and the UK is at a high risk of becoming the Chernobyl of Europe,” he says.
“When I joined the Royal Navy, I had no idea that I was going to work with nuclear weapons. When I found out I was happy. I used to think they were an essential tool in maintaining peace, by deterring war,” he adds.
“It wasn't until I saw the major safety and security issues that I realised the system is more of a threat than a deterrent.” Security must be tightened "above its current highest possible state until the missiles are removed," he argues.
According to McNeilly, people were lied to about weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the Iraq war. “Now you're being lied to about how safe and secure the nuclear weapons on your homeland are,” he says.
“I've been strongly advised to remain silent and live a private life. I'm civilian now, and I have the right to free speech. I'm not going to waste that freedom by just sitting around on my ass, while the UK is in danger.”
It is “absolutely ridiculous” to suggest that he is some kind of “SNP super agent”, he says. But he is supportive of the Scottish political party’s aim of ridding Scotland of Trident, and promises to make a judgement on the UK government’s Trident policy on 7 July.
The SNP’s defence spokesman, Brendan O'Hara MP, accused the MoD of trying to sweep McNeilly’s allegations under the carpet. "We should all be grateful that he was courageous enough to bring these matters to public attention - especially as he had nothing to gain personally and – as we see today - so much to lose,” he said.
The Royal Navy pointed out that when individuals showed a willingness to breach trust, ignored opportunities to voice concerns through the chain of command and declared "beliefs incompatible with service employment”, their future employment had to be considered.
“We can confirm that Able Seaman McNeilly has left the naval service the details of which are a matter for the individual and his employer,” said a naval spokeswoman. "Throughout the process he was afforded the duty of care that we give all our personnel, as was his family.”
McNeilly's latest report can be downloaded here (91KB pdf).