By Ian Griggs
PR Week – 25 January 2017
A row blew up this week after Prime Minister Theresa May was asked on Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show what she knew about a failed Trident missile test - in which an unarmed missile fired from a submarine off the cost of Florida veered off course – following a story in the Sunday Times. The mishap occurred around the time when Parliament was debating renewal of the Trident missile system, which will cost the UK up to £23 billion. May repeatedly evaded the presenter’s questions when asked if she knew about the test while she making the case for Trident renewal.
By Monday, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was forced to come to the House of Commons and make a statement in which he refused to confirm or deny that the missile went off course. Speculation has since turned to who knew about the failed test, when they knew it and why this was not made public, given that successful missile tests are publicised.But on Monday lunchtime’s Daily Politics, Dr Julian Lewis MP, the chair of Parliament’s Defence Select Committee, appeared on the programme to say it would have been wise of May to have been “straightforward” with Marr.
Lewis said the real blame was with the people who decided to cover it up in the first place, “presumably Downing Street”. He added:
“I have to say, in fairness to the spin doctors in Downing Street, 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.”
Lewis then named Sir Craig, joking:
“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.”
PR Week contacted Oliver, who joined Teneo Blue Rubicon as a senior MD last month, but had received no response at the time of publication.