By John Stevens
Daily Mail – 24 January 2017
David Cameron's former spin doctor Sir Craig Oliver went on the warpath yesterday after he was accused of covering up the disastrous Trident missile test. The chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, Julian Lewis, blamed the former Prime Minister's team for keeping quiet about the failure of the trial that took place just days before the Brexit referendum, when Mr Cameron was Prime Minister.
Dr Lewis told Radio 4 that Theresa May “should probably have spoken up” about any malfunction during last July's debate on the renewal of the deterrent. But he added:
“This test went wrong in June when it was a question for David Cameron and his team at No 10. They evidently decided to cover this matter up.”
His claim was denied by Sir Craig, who reportedly called Dr Lewis in a fury.
“A very senior former Cameron spin doctor has rung up my office in a state of great anger, saying they never knew anything about it,”
Dr Lewis later told the BBC.
“I have to say it was a great pleasure to convey the message to Sir Craig Oliver that he ought to issue a Press Release on the subject, and I hope he will do so in great detail and depth. But nevertheless, if he didn't know, did the [then] prime minister know? And if the prime minister knew, why didn't he make the matter public and why didn't he tell even his closest spin doctors?”
There was anger in July when it was announced that Sir Craig would be knighted after masterminding the failed Remain referendum campaign.
It [the row] came as the Ministry of Defence's claim that it was Government policy never to comment on nuclear missile tests was shot down by its own press releases. They include one statement from June 2014, when Defence Minister Philip Dunne said:
“Last week I was off the coast of Florida embarked on USS West Virginia to witness a test-firing of a Trident 2 D5 missile. This successful test demonstrated once again that the Trident remains a credible and reliable deterrent.”
[For further developments, click here.]